If I were to tell you that I have a personal relationship with Abraham Lincoln, I imagine you would have some questions. You would ask, “What makes you say that you have a personal relationship with Abraham Lincoln?”
And I would answer…
“Well, I am absolutely fascinated by him and so I studied every possible piece of historical documentation of his life. I have read and memorized ‘The Gettysburg Address,’ ‘ The Emancipation Proclamation’ and every other public speech he’s given. I learned about his childhood, his schooling and his early political career. I suspect that I know just about everything there is to know about Honest Abe.”
You would observe…
“That’s great that you’ve studied Abraham Lincoln. He’s a great American hero but just studying his life doesn’t equate to a personal relationship with him and besides, he’s been dead since 1865.”
This all seems rather absurd. How could anyone claim to have a relationship with an historical figure? How could anyone believe that they have a personal relationship with someone who is dead and buried?
As absurd as this may seem, it is no more so than me saying I have a personal relationship with Jesus, because I’ve read His story in the Bible. I could tell you, “Sure, I read ‘The Sermon On The Mount,’ I’ve studied His teachings carefully and cataloged every miracle He’s ever performed. I researched the method of His execution and have studied all the available materials concerning His resurrection.”
The reality is that I would be telling you that I know a lot about Jesus but in no way would I be demonstrating that I actually have a personal relationship with Him.
Of course there is a huge distinction between Jesus and every other historical figure. While the story ends for each at the point of their death and burial, the best part of Jesus’ story comes AFTER the grave. He is the RISEN one. Death couldn’t conquer Him. The grave could not keep Him.
It is because He is alive that we can do much more than just study Him. It is because the grave couldn’t hold Him that we can have an ongoing personal relationship with Him. We can know ABOUT Jesus… or we can KNOW Jesus.
The difference is like that of looking at the pictures of a beautiful mansion versus living in it. One knows of but the other experiences.
- Knowing that there is a God is not enough.
- Knowing that He has a Son is not enough.
- Knowing His name is not enough.
- Knowing every detail of His life is not enough.
- Knowing that He died on the cross is not enough.
- Knowing that He rose on the third day is not enough.
The goal is not to know of Him.
It is to KNOW HIM.
Do you know Jesus?
Do you have a personal relationship with Him?
~ Mitch Salmon