Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Jesus - Personal Savior

By Dennis Pollock


I have been an evangelical Christian for a long time, about 48 years at the time of this writing. And due to this I can remember Christian trends, phrases, and styles that once were popular and now have almost ceased to exist. Christ has not changed, the Bible has not changed, the morality of God has not changed, and the way we enter God's kingdom (through faith in Jesus) has not changed, but many of the trappings of Christianity have definitely changed. One example is the way pastors dress. During my early days in Christ, back in 1973, most pastors came to the pulpit wearing suits and ties, and often white shirts. Today, most pastors would not wear a suit and tie to church on Sunday for a thousand dollars. You see far more jeans than you do suits in most non-denominational, evangelical churches these days.


In this study I want to talk about a phrase once popular throughout evangelical churches a generation ago, but which seems to have fallen out of favor today. And that is the expression: "your personal Savior" or "your personal Lord and Savior." Evangelists, pastors, and ordinary Christians, when attempting to win someone or a great many someones to Jesus, used to say, "You must receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior." Today we rarely hear that. In fact sometimes people will criticize those who do use that expression as being unbiblical, unnecessary, or both.


While it is true that the term "personal Savior" is not found in the Bible, I am convinced that the concept of Jesus being our personal Savior is all through the Bible and it is vitally important that we understand this, whether we ever use the words "personal Savior" or not.


Savior of the World


So let's look at this concept of Jesus as a personal Savior. The first thing we need to understand is that there are a few Bible verses which speak of Jesus as being a universal Savior, the "Savior of the world." In the fourth chapter of John, some of the Samaritans declared: "We know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). And John writes: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14).


To read that Jesus is the Savior of the world sounds like Jesus' death on the cross covered everyone, and therefore cancelled the sins of all. No one will be lost, all will be saved, and all will go to heaven regardless of what they believe or how they live. And if these were the only verses in the Bible that address the issue, we would have little choice but to believe this. And some professing Christians today do indeed believe that all will be saved; none will be lost. Everyone: Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, liar, fornicator, thief, and serial murderer – all will be saved. You will find Adolf Hitler in heaven, right along with the apostle Paul. Jack the Ripper will be there, perhaps with a mansion next door to Mary Magdalene.


God's Warnings


Of course, most Christians have never believed that, and with good reason. The Bible has scores of warnings that we must receive Jesus by faith, and if we do not receive Jesus, we will be eternally lost and condemned to everlasting destruction. Some of these verses include:


  1. "…for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24)
  2. "…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction…" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
  3. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:12)
  4. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it…" (Matthew 7:13) 

From these and dozens of other Scriptures, the Bible unequivocally declares that if you have Jesus you are saved; if you do not have Jesus you are lost. No impartial person who reads the New Testament could come up with any other conclusion. So how is it that Jesus is the "Savior of the world" and yet many people, in fact, most people, will not be saved?


Saving Grace Activated


There is only one possible answer to this dilemma. Jesus is the Savior of the world in the sense that He is the potential Savior for every single person in the world: every African, every American, every Asian, every Hispanic, everybody! But His saving grace is only activated by our faith in Him. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). The implication is crystal clear: if you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will not be saved.


And this is where the idea of making Jesus your personal Savior comes in. Although Jesus is the Savior of the world whether you believe in Him or not, His salvation, His cross, and His resurrection will do you no good at all unless you put your faith in Him, and He becomes not only the Savior of the world, but the Savior of Dennis or the Savior of Nancy or the Savior of Bob… in other words your Savior, your own personal Savior.


I can remember talking with a lady many years ago who described how she became a Christian. Although I may not remember all the details perfectly, here are the main facts of her conversion. Someone was talking with her and asked who she believed Jesus was. Although she was not yet born-again, she had respect for Jesus and replied that she believed He was the Savior of the world. The other person told her that was not enough, saying something like: "Until you make Him your own personal Savior, just knowing that He is the Savior of the world does not save you." She instantly saw this, and compliantly responded: "I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior." As she was telling me and several others about her conversion, she said, "At that point I could feel the Holy Spirit in my heart, and I knew that I was saved, right there and then." What had happened? Jesus had been transformed from a universal, generic Savior into her own personal Savior. And this woman, who had been a strong Christian for many years since then, traced her salvation, her born-again experience back to that one event, that day when she made Jesus her own personal Savior.


Many Other Aspects of Jesus


This is an extremely important truth for us to see, and it relates, not only to salvation, but to many other aspects of Jesus' roles in His ministry to His people. For example, Jesus declares that He is the Good Shepherd. This is a wonderful role He exercises toward His people, and yet many never allow this to become a big part of their life and walk with Him. They see Jesus as being a good shepherd as a sort of generic, universal truth, but not one that has much of an impact upon their own lives. But as long as we only see Jesus as "the" good shepherd for everybody, the shepherding grace of Jesus does not do us much good. This is just too generalized. But a day came in my life when I saw and embraced Jesus as my Good Shepherd, you might say, "my personal Shepherd." I began to look to Him to shepherd me and I began to trust that He was shepherding me and would shepherd me. He would lead me in paths of peace and wisdom and success as I followed Him and trusted in Him. And it was amazing how much better my life went, once I locked onto this powerful truth of Jesus being my Good Shepherd.


When I embraced Jesus as my "Good Shepherd" I did not make Him the Good Shepherd. Jesus was already the good Shepherd long before I realized it. But once I really saw this and began to acknowledge it and praise Jesus for it and embrace Him as my Shepherd, that's when Jesus' shepherding grace came flooding into my life.


Jesus is What He Is – But We Must Believe


The principle is simple: Jesus is what He is whether we believe it or not. But once we believe in Jesus and embrace Him in His many roles: as our Savior, as our Shepherd, as our Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, as the Keeper of our soul, and so many other roles, that's when His grace is activated in our lives and we discover His power and victory and salvation.


To get back to our original point, the concept of making Jesus your "personal" Savior is vitally important. Many people go throughout their lives with a generic, non-transformative view of Jesus, assuming they are Christians. Yet because Jesus is to them merely some historical figure, and they have not embraced Him personally, they are lost and will only discover that they are lost when they stand before Him at the judgment seat.


This is what every evangelist, pastor, and every other Christian who wants to win souls, must emphasize. Whether we use the term "personal Savior" is not important. But to explain the need to receive Jesus personally is incredibly important. And if we do use the term "personal Savior" in ministering to unbelievers, we should follow it up with a brief explanation of what that means.


Let us go forth in our lives, determined to embrace Jesus in every single role He is and can be on our behalf. The greater our trust in Him, the deeper our devotion to Him, the more consistent our abiding in Him, the more His "grace upon grace" will be poured out in our lives. People will be blessed, God will be honored, and we will become "a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).





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