Magen_Avot

What does "A Personal Relationship with Christ" mean to you?

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I have been contemplating the question of "what is a Christian" for awhile and have had some meaningful discussions with my now missionary daughter. She has had many such conversations with others as well. It has been interesting but I have found that there is no well articulated meaning. It changes to make one's point. I did a search on this subject in the forums here and found PrisonChaplain had just posted "What do Christians Believe?" and it was an interesting read and I was led further afield.

I read on the web a statement by Matt Slick who said this, "Christianity isn't about rules and regulations to follow. It is about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." This statement has stayed in my mind because it has been an anchoring point in the last year for me. The thing is, the more I think about it the more I ask, what do you mean when you say "a personal relationship with Christ?" I have not found any past op that has touched this subject so I'm asking for your thoughts. Definitions, experiences or what have you...

I chose general beliefs because I'm not directing it to LDS specifically.

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I was 10 when I raised my hand in response to the question, "Would you like to invite Jesus into your heart?' He came in! I speak to him, I sense his direction. Sometimes I feel peace, sometimes conviction (guilt). I aim to please him, and believe he works all things together for good. I anticipate his soon-coming return, but know that my eternal life began when I was 10. It's not something I'm waiting for. It's in me now. My life is Christ's, and his life is in me.

In church we sing a song, "I am a friend of God...He calls me friend." It's a joyous song, and it's true.

When the LDS missionaries asked me to pray about whether the BoM was true, I found that natural. I would pray about most any decision, so certainly about whether a profound spiritual book was of God or not would be something to pray about.

Interestingly Barna did a poll once, asking LDS members a series of questions. The purpose was to get at what % would say they had experiences that evangelical Christians would define as "born again." Obviously, doctrinal questions were not asked. Rather, questions like "Have you repented of your sins? Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Have you given your life to Jesus?" I'm not sure the exact wording, but the result was 44%. I think many were surprised at the high number--higher than many mainstream Christian denominations, btw. Not sure what to make of it.

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You've got me thinking about my youth. Thats a very long story though. Lets just say I lived the LDS lifestyle keeping the normal expected commandments, but I never had that "ask Jesus into your heart" moment. It was weird to me and just didn't fit my version of the LDS world. I see where it has taken me some 20 years or so to get to where I am now, and I had never thought I needed more. When some things no longer met my expectation I had a crisis and needed desperately to resolve it. I even prayed and told God I was going to stop going to church. It was interesting to me that the answer was, "You can do that if you want. Understand that there are consequences to this action". I chose to stay and was led along a path of intense prayer and realized I was indeed a sinner and needed Jesus Christ in my heart,... in my whole life; and in a way I've never known. Suddenly I couldn't ask for forgiveness because I was unworthy. God stayed with me and I knew it and this drove me to ask Him, "why he stayed with the wretch of a man that I felt like?". What happened next I describe it as experiencing His love, but saying He entered my heart works just as well. It was, in fact, the most precious gift I could ever imagine. It's still a bit weird to say it but I was truly born again that day. The Wednesday after my 52nd birthday 2012.

The song you mention reminds me when I apologized to God for my poor singing voice, but He told me how much He loves to hear me sing and when He once told me I was His friend. How can I not love Him with all my heart? Talking of eternal life you said, "It's not something I'm waiting for. It's in me now." I know what you know.

I say I'm a born again mormon now. I am. It was about 6 weeks when I realized I had not stopped being a mortal man. There's lots to overcome but it's not tied to eternal life like I've always believed, at least not in the same way that I thought. I love being LDS because everything points to Christ, I chuckle about this because it was always there, it was I who changed. It was my Redeemer who changed me.

Thank you PC

Edited by Magen_Avot

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I remember a lesson that was given on my mission that I felt to be profound. Our zone leaders talked about a spiritual progression Joseph Smith received as he honored and fulfilled his duty.

The scripture passages in the Doctrine and Covenants shared how in the beginning Joseph Smith was called "servant." Later in the sections Joseph Smith was referred to as "son." Then finally Joseph Smith was referred to as "friend."

In the New Testament the Lord distinguishes his apostles from others by calling them "friends" and how because they are "friends" he reveals things unto them without parables.

I personally feel, our relationship with Christ needs to progress to being his friend. He will reveal more to us directly.

I believe this point is reached when a person truly has come to understand "charity" and that we keep commandments out of love, not out of "only to be obedient." We keep the commandments because of our love for him and Heavenly Father.

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Magen, Iam glad you started this thread, I have really enjoyed all the replies so far. Thanks also to PC and Anndenex.

PC, I invited Christ into my heart when I was 10 also! My family did not go to church, and but I had recently found out that a close friend had leukemia and could die. I wondered if dying was like going to sleep and never waking up again. I didn't care much for that idea so I started going to different churches. Later when I was 12, I joined the LDS church, again on my own.

Magen, I am so grateful you shared your being born again experience, because I had an experience very much like that. I haven't heard anyone else talk about experiencing something like that though. A very short version of my experience (because the whole process was spread over a few months.) I was inspired by a church lesson about the young man who came to Jesus and asked, "What lack I yet?" I decided to do the same.

It was a life changing experience, that led to an experience very similar to yours where I first felt how unworthy I am and how much I need the Savior. I wept, and felt so sorry that I had added to his pain. Then I felt such love from Him and knew that even He loved me even though I did not "deserve" it. Like you I think of it as my being born again experience.

I also love that you mentioned that after having that experience you realized that you were still a mortal man with much to learn. The last couple of years have been extremely challenging for me, and at times I found myself completely dissociated from my Born Again experience. I mean dissociated as in Dissociative Disorder--or mental illness. But it is a mental disorder that can be healed with much work and therapy. As I am healing and beginning to feel that spiritual part of myself that had been "set aside" for awhile, I believe that my "born again" experience is what got me through those years, even when I doubted God's exsistence entirely, in my heart, I knew that God and Christ were there and that they loved me.

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I appreciate the comments.

Anddenex points out the progression I experienced. I've never heard that before. I will be giving that some thought.

LP, I was a bit unsure weather or not to "expose" my experience. I'm glad you are bouncing back. My experience has left me with such a deep desire for as many as would open their hearts to our Lord, and share the wondrous love He has for us. It just can't be had any other way.

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Turns out I got my number wrong--it was 34% of LDS who fit as having an evangelical understanding of a born again experience. It's a rather fascinating article. Keep in mind that Barna is coming from an evangelical perspective.

The Barna Group - Religious Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination

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I like the word "friend" to describe my relationship with Christ. I think because He is perfect and I am not He is more "friend" to me than I am to Him. But I'm working on it.

I know when I lay my troubles at his feet, no matter how personal or public, He helps.

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Turns out I got my number wrong--it was 34% of LDS who fit as having an evangelical understanding of a born again experience. It's a rather fascinating article. Keep in mind that Barna is coming from an evangelical perspective.

The Barna Group - Religious Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination

Interesting article, but from an LDS perspective, utterly meaningless. The questions were not even well-defined for Latter-day Saints, which explains why the numbers were all over the place.

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PC,

Some observation on the Barna article.

Arminian groups scored higher then Calvinists groups. (LDS fall closer to Arminianism then Calvinism)

I was surprised that they were surprised by the high number of evanglelicals in the churches of Christ. Although they probably failed to identify that many non-denom churches come out the same movement.

Vort,

The questions were asked from an evanglelical perspective, so naturally they wouldn't fully fit LDS understandings. However the LDS idea of gaining a testimony and the Evanglelical idea of being converted do intersect.

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Guest ghostwind

I have been contemplating the question of "what is a Christian" for awhile and have had some meaningful discussions with my now missionary daughter. She has had many such conversations with others as well. It has been interesting but I have found that there is no well articulated meaning. It changes to make one's point. I did a search on this subject in the forums here and found PrisonChaplain had just posted "What do Christians Believe?" and it was an interesting read and I was led further afield.

I read on the web a statement by Matt Slick who said this, "Christianity isn't about rules and regulations to follow. It is about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." This statement has stayed in my mind because it has been an anchoring point in the last year for me. The thing is, the more I think about it the more I ask, what do you mean when you say "a personal relationship with Christ?" I have not found any past op that has touched this subject so I'm asking for your thoughts. Definitions, experiences or what have you...

I chose general beliefs because I'm not directing it to LDS specifically.

For me, this means the relationship to God is more worth than any words written by men or any words told by men. And the relationship to God results from your honest faith in God. Your personal relationship will result from the idea and from the message Jesus once hat tried to reveal to men. If you can be sure you are a brother in mind with his message and ideas and revealations, and therefore you can find to God, then you are in relationship with him. This is what I can say.

Edited by ghostwind

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I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately.

I didn't join the Church until I was 24. Before that I was agnostic. I didn't just have to learn what it meant to be LDS, but I had to learn what it meant to be Christian. I had to accept the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon.

I had to learn about who Christ was and why it mattered. I know who he is, I know what he did for me, but after 14 years of membership...is my relationship with him any deeper than before I learned of him?

Would I have been the one leper out of 10 that turned back and thanked the Savior for the healing? Would I have been the woman that had enough faith to know that just touching his robe would heal her? Would I have been the centurion that had enough faith to know that his servant would be healed just by the Savior's word? Would I be willing to leave everything behind to follow him (family, friends, livelihood, home...)?

I no longer worry about my knowledge of him. I am consistently learning about him, thinking of him, and teaching my children about him.

Now I am trying to figure out how to turn that knowledge into something that emanates from me, something that others can see in my countenance. I think I will know more about my relationship with Christ when I can learn to be more like him, when I can take my knowledge and turn it into consistent, sincere action.

If discipleship is supposed to help us to smooth our rough spots and become polished, then I am still a rough stone. Hopefully, as I seek to understand what a personal relationship with Christ means, my roughness will turn smooth and I will be sufficiently refined to enter into God's presence.

With God all things are possible...even turning "tough grits" into smooth grits! :)

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The ward I'm in right now is very multi-national. I was touched by a woman who is from South Africa I think, but whatever else she talked about, it was evident she really loved the Lord and blessed His name for the blessings she has. I think of the statement on countenance and that seemed to fit her. I was a bit teary eyed at one point because she caused me to reflect on the relationship I have with my Friend, Lord and Master. Today's priesthood lesson on the first four principles of the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost) brought up having a "broken heart and contrite spirit" and we also discussed that in developing a relationship with the Savior, we submit our will to His because our agency is the only thing we have to give because He has given us everything else. I can see that because LDS believe we lived as spirit children of God before this earth life.

Any thoughts?

Edited by Magen_Avot

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...we submit our will to His because our agency is the only thing we have to give because He has given us everything else.

I really like the simple truth of this comment. Truth IS simple. Truth makes sense, and it feels right.

This is the heart of what I have been thinking lately: making this sublime truth more than just something I feel and know to be true. I want to become this truth.

I want to be the person that if the Lord asked me to leave all that I have and all that I know behind to follow him with nothing but the clothes on my back I would say, "Yea Lord, I will follow thee," and immediately leave all and follow him...without even looking back or hesitating.

The thing is--he has asked this of me. Every day he asks this of me. Okay, I don't literally have to leave my home, job, husband, and kids behind. But that should shame me even more, because he is asking me to follow him without actually having to leave my home, job, husband, or kids. I get to follow him without having to give up very much of the comfortable things in life!

This is the point in my thoughts where my mind hurts and my heart trembles...because I can just see what it is that he wants of me...and can just sense what it is he wants me to become, and then I realize that I am not there yet and that I lack much before I have the discipleship and the followship of some of the inspiring people recorded in scripture.

Yet I do not give up. Realizing my own smallness and my own failing does not make me shrink from the Lord. Instead, I know I need him even more! The more I see how pitiful I am without him, the more I want to know him and become like he is.

If we liken the scriptures to ourselves, then all those comments he makes to the hypocrites, the slothful, the worldly, and so forth must needs be applied to ourselves! I take his chastening of those in scripture as a chastening to ME. Instead of making me sad or mad, it makes me want to fix that failing and move beyond it...so that I am one more step closer to him.

I know he loves me, but I want him to see himself within me, within my thoughts, within my words, and within my actions.

Tall order, huh? ^_^

It is time for scriptures. I have to go. But I am thankful for this thread. I have been able to get so many thoughts out that have been swirling within my simple mind lately. ~TG

Edited by Tough Grits
typos typos typos

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Hidden

For me it means the journey from being reborn to parting the veil and finding myself in the embrace of my Savior, my Second Comforter, and all the sacred, personal blessings, miracles, ministering of angels, etc along the way.

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Some may mean, born again, in other ways.

For me it's like falling in love. You can't really explain it to someone, unless they have had the same expierence. Even then it may be so precious that they find it hard to talk about.

When I was baptized at the tender age of eight, there was a special something that I didn't understand, that happened to me. Yet it wasen't untill thirty one that I actually fell in love with the One that loves me best and knows me fully.

After thirty five years it is still the same way. Spiritual growth has taken place and so many lessons learned. All leading toward that promised finish line.

I love that old song, "we have a Heavenly Father above, with eyes full of mercy and a heart full of love. He really cares when our head is bowed low, consider the lilies and then you will know."

Guess to sum it all up, born again is better felt than telt'. Ya know what I mean?

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I have been contemplating the question of "what is a Christian" for awhile and have had some meaningful discussions with my now missionary daughter. She has had many such conversations with others as well. It has been interesting but I have found that there is no well articulated meaning. It changes to make one's point. I did a search on this subject in the forums here and found PrisonChaplain had just posted "What do Christians Believe?" and it was an interesting read and I was led further afield.

I read on the web a statement by Matt Slick who said this, "Christianity isn't about rules and regulations to follow. It is about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." This statement has stayed in my mind because it has been an anchoring point in the last year for me. The thing is, the more I think about it the more I ask, what do you mean when you say "a personal relationship with Christ?" I have not found any past op that has touched this subject so I'm asking for your thoughts. Definitions, experiences or what have you...

I chose general beliefs because I'm not directing it to LDS specifically.

Personally (pun intended) I am concerned when someone portends that the primary "thing" is to have a personal relationship. For the following reasons:

1. I am not sure what they are telling me. I believe Satan could say he has a personal relationship with Jesus - he has certainly known Jesus for a long time.

2. Jesus never said that having a personal relationship with him was important.

3. Jesus said that those that love him will keep his commandments. As I see it - the commandments are in essence a set of rules and to say that a personal relationship is more important that a set of rules looks like a very big contradiction to me. My impression that they lie about their relationships.

4. Jesus talked specifically about many that would falsely claim to have a personal relationship with him in Luke 13:23-30 and Matthew 7:21-32. I see no reason to tell anyone about one's relationship with Jesus. Rather I believe a "Christian" will teach what Jesus taught and that "Christians" will use the methods Jesus taught to identify one another as disciples or pretenders as Jesus also spoke of "wolves in sheep's clothing".

5. If someone were to say that they are an example of the teachings of Jesus or that they live a Christ like life by example - then I am interested in learning from their example - I am not looking for someone that worships with their mouth and with their lips they will honor Christ but in reality there heart is somewhere else.

My suggestion is that one enters into covenants to obey the commandments of Christ and that they discipline themselves through the influence of the Holy Spirit to make their life an example and therefore letting their "light" so shine that other will see their good works and glorify G-d and Jesus Christ that was sent by G-d.

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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Jesus Christ started a Church. From that point forward having a personal relationship with Jesus would forever mean having a personal relationship with his Church. As Paul pointed out, we are all part of the same body. A finger does not constitute a whole body. We are only part of the body when we join with others in Christ's Church which is the Bride of Christ.

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Jesus Christ started a Church. From that point forward having a personal relationship with Jesus would forever mean having a personal relationship with his Church. As Paul pointed out, we are all part of the same body. A finger does not constitute a whole body. We are only part of the body when we join with others in Christ's Church which is the Bride of Christ.

Not sure I understand what you are saying - Judas had a very personal relationship with the exact Church started by Christ (no question about it being his church - Jesus was still alive) and it did not seem to help Judas very much - I think, as I said previously in this thread, that a personal covenant to keep the commandments established in the ordinances given by Christ for his church (even by example) is the additional dimension for which you may be speaking? Which even the church does not have authority to change - Don't you think?

The Traveler

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Some decades ago, while in my sophmore year of college, I sat in an Institute of Religion class and the topic of Gospel Discussion that day was Exhaltation and if it is possible to achieve Exhaltation in this life.

In the course of the discussion I kept feeling prompted with something that my Mother had taught me from my earliest days of recollection.

Who says that Heavenly Father & our Brother Jesus Christ can not be the type of friends you'd sit with on a park bench & feed the pigeons?

Who says we can not share a relationship with them where we tell them everything, our secrets, our joys, our tears, our pains, even the jokes that made us laugh that day?

I shared those recollections & beliefs with the class & the course of discussion took an abrupt turn of the how great it would be to have such a personal relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ that we chose, of our own free will, to share everything with them.

To know and to be able to talk with them openly, without hesitation, without judging ourselves but rather finding loving acceptance even though perhaps we know how imperfect our lives & choices & actions might be.

Since that day I have tried to always share with Heavenly Father everything thru my daily prayers, even though some of those things I knew would not be pleasing to Him .... but He is all knowing, He already knows those things.

Doing so, in a very deeply personal way, has helped me to allow Jesus Christ to become much more of a personal mentor in my life.

Incidentally, Happy Birthday Mom!

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Some decades ago, while in my sophmore year of college, I sat in an Institute of Religion class and the topic of Gospel Discussion that day was Exhaltation and if it is possible to achieve Exhaltation in this life.

In the course of the discussion I kept feeling prompted with something that my Mother had taught me from my earliest days of recollection.

Who says that Heavenly Father & our Brother Jesus Christ can not be the type of friends you'd sit with on a park bench & feed the pigeons?

Who says we can not share a relationship with them where we tell them everything, our secrets, our joys, our tears, our pains, even the jokes that made us laugh that day?

I shared those recollections & beliefs with the class & the course of discussion took an abrupt turn of the how great it would be to have such a personal relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ that we chose, of our own free will, to share everything with them.

To know and to be able to talk with them openly, without hesitation, without judging ourselves but rather finding loving acceptance even though perhaps we know how imperfect our lives & choices & actions might be.

Since that day I have tried to always share with Heavenly Father everything thru my daily prayers, even though some of those things I knew would not be pleasing to Him .... but He is all knowing, He already knows those things.

Doing so, in a very deeply personal way, has helped me to allow Jesus Christ to become much more of a personal mentor in my life.

Incidentally, Happy Birthday Mom!

I believe you are correct in your desire to have Christ by your side as a friend to do what-ever - but my point is the cart before the horse paradox. In other words, the means and way to have a personal relationship with Jesus and G-d are in the keeping of the commandments - not necessarily in telling G-d everything in your prayers or other conversations which can have extra meaning for those keeping the commandments. But that we draw near to Christ by keeping his commandments and by no other path, way or means - if we do not keep his commandments - nothing else matters.

The Traveler

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I believe you are correct in your desire to have Christ by your side as a friend to do what-ever - but my point is the cart before the horse paradox. In other words, the means and way to have a personal relationship with Jesus and G-d are in the keeping of the commandments - not necessarily in telling G-d everything in your prayers or other conversations which can have extra meaning for those keeping the commandments. But that we draw near to Christ by keeping his commandments and by no other path, way or means - if we do not keep his commandments - nothing else matters.

The Traveler

True; however, if you are willing to share everything, even the things that you know are displeasing to God, then the natural progression (at least for me) is to strive to live a life that has fewer (potentially nothing) that is displeasing to God.

Just a different process of getting to the same point.

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True; however, if you are willing to share everything, even the things that you know are displeasing to God, then the natural progression (at least for me) is to strive to live a life that has fewer (potentially nothing) that is displeasing to God.

Just a different process of getting to the same point.

Perhaps we are on the same concept track but perhaps not. I will liken the process to a personal relationship with a piano. If one sets down and disciplines their musical "lessons" according to a master teacher - they will develop a personal relationship with both the master piano teacher and the piano. But if they just sit at a piano, from time to time leaning on the keys to make sounds while they chit chat with the instructor - they may develop a "personal" relationship of sorts with the master teacher but they will be a big disappointment to themselves, the master teacher and anyone that anticipates beautiful music to result.

I am also not sure it is all about a relationship between an individual and G-d. For example, Jesus said the first commandment is to love G-d but that the second commandment is similar - to love our neighbor. This indicates that in the purposes of G-d making himself available is so that we will be more lovingly open to our neighbors. If we are doing such a thing - I do not believe we will have to tell our neighbors about our relationships for them to understanding if such a thing is indeed going on.

The Traveler

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Not sure I understand what you are saying - Judas had a very personal relationship with the exact Church started by Christ (no question about it being his church - Jesus was still alive) and it did not seem to help Judas very much

There are unfaithful members of every faith tradition. Their unfaithfulness is not a reflection of the truth of the faith tradition.

I think, as I said previously in this thread, that a personal covenant to keep the commandments established in the ordinances given by Christ for his church (even by example) is the additional dimension for which you may be speaking? Which even the church does not have authority to change - Don't you think?

The Traveler

Well, of course we all have the responsibility to adhere to the doctrines and teachings of the faith we have chosen otherwise what would be the point in choosing it? We all answer individually, but also as the people of God. We're not in this on our own. Paul speaks very lucidly about this when he compares the Church to a body with many parts.

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Perhaps we are on the same concept track but perhaps not. I will liken the process to a personal relationship with a piano. If one sets down and disciplines their musical "lessons" according to a master teacher - they will develop a personal relationship with both the master piano teacher and the piano. But if they just sit at a piano, from time to time leaning on the keys to make sounds while they chit chat with the instructor - they may develop a "personal" relationship of sorts with the master teacher but they will be a big disappointment to themselves, the master teacher and anyone that anticipates beautiful music to result.

I am also not sure it is all about a relationship between an individual and G-d. For example, Jesus said the first commandment is to love G-d but that the second commandment is similar - to love our neighbor. This indicates that in the purposes of G-d making himself available is so that we will be more lovingly open to our neighbors. If we are doing such a thing - I do not believe we will have to tell our neighbors about our relationships for them to understanding if such a thing is indeed going on.

The Traveler

I appreciate your insight Traveler.

For me, It is like giving a full-report, an accounting, of my actvities and progress. If that is a full accounting there will be things that I know are not pleasing as well as things that are pleasing.

In turn I frequent receive comfort & direction & can even say I have been counseled.

So the idea of "chit chat" & expecting to make beuatiful music is not the concpet I was trying to convey ....

NOTHING in life can be accomplished without applied action and no one can truely improve if they do not have a mentor or coach or someone to emulate - if you are the only person you report to, if you are the only example in your life, no one to challenge you to make improvements except you yourself, then you are likely exactly as you will always be.

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