here’s to hoping you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal savior


I haven’t accepted Jesus as my personal savior.

At least I feel uneasy saying it that way; it makes me uncomfortable on several levels.  But I should preface my comments by acknowledging that the use of the phrase, “accepting a personal savior,” does not make true all of the comments which follow.  It does, though, lend itself to the following interpretations, however ingrained and subconscious they may be:

  • I fear we grab hold of Jesus as savior and forget the Lord bit. I’m not sure he can be one without the other, but we often live our lives as if it’s not only a possibility, but a certainty.  Our language leans this way as well.  One problem is that we misuse the word salvation — or, rather, we fail to apply it’s fuller meaning. I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. Each is a perfectly Biblical statement, which I am about to greatly oversimplify.  Justification is when my position in Christ is made right, but my practice is not.  Transformation is when my practice is becoming more in line with my position in Christ.  And glorification is when the kingdom is present in its fullness, and all is as it should be — in both my practice and my position.  Salvation is used for all three of these concepts in the New Testament, yet we tend to focus only on justification.  “I was saved.”  I suppose I should concede, at least, that “I have accepted” implies a past action that is continuing to affect the present.  Also, in my oversimplified definitions of ‘salvation,’ I only spoke of their import to the individual.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • I’m uncomfortable with the individualistic nature of the claim. As if it’s just “me and Jesus” in this together, only the two of us, peas and carrots. I can’t read the Bible and come away with a view of the kingdom that allows me to gravitate toward such a personal savior. We even go so far as to question whether or not people are sincere in their commitments to Christ if they come forward at the same time as others — and a group decision is absolutely out of the question.  I don’t know if we realize it, but we’re reading our American worldview into the text (or we’re forming our ideas not based on the text at all).  There are several examples in the New Testament of entire households coming to Christ… together… at the same time.  The Old Testament tells of entire cities and nations turning to God.  And there are numerous cultures in our world today in which people still make decisions as families and/or communities.  And we want to interview each individual to make sure they’ve made this decision dependent of any other?!
  • I don’t like the declaration of ownership implied in Jesus being “mine.” I know this one’s a lot easier to debate, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it;  I’ll leave it at the fact that I’m more comfortable with my belonging to Jesus than I am him belonging to me.
  • My reluctance to proclaim that I’ve “accepted” Jesus is similar to my reluctance to imply ownership — mostly semantics.  I’m acknowledging that.  But all of the responsibility is on me when I accept something or someone.  I’ve come to believe over the past few years that the Holy Spirit has more to do with my salvation than I was previously willing to admit.  That being said, I’m not nearly as hesitant to say, “I’ve accepted Christ,” as I am to claim, “…and then I made up my mind I’d better straighten out my life and get it right.  So I repented and got baptized.”  Maybe only a subtle difference, but it strikes me as significant.
  • I would argue that our continual focus on the individual and his/her part in accepting Christ nurtures in us a sort of selfishness.  It actually pushes us just a bit toward viewing ourselves as the center of our universe, which is how we got into all this trouble to start with.  (I think) I believe all sin emanates from some form of selfishness (although not necessarily an individualistic form of it — one can be selfish while thinking of his family or social group, etc).  And I feel as if we’re allowing selfishness to creep back into the one place it shouldn’t exist — the kingdom of God. While it’s true that Jesus loves me, can we take some of the focus off of me? I suppose it’s no surprise that I prefer “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” to “Jesus loves me.”  Let’s put the focus back on God.  While I know this will never happen (and probably shouldn’t), I’m just waiting for my daughter to come home one day with a coloring sheet that says, “God loves himself more than me.” We start at quite a young age cultivating in our children that they are the most important thing to us… and to God. I’d like for us to look at a bigger picture.

What are your thoughts on the “accepting a personal savior” phrase?  What wording might be better?  What do you generally say when you’re wanting to convey to others the idea that you’ve put on Christ, or that you’re a citizen of the kingdom, etc?  Do we even think about how what we say might come across to others, or what it might reveal about some of our deepest assumptions?

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    21 Comments

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    21 responses to “here’s to hoping you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal savior

    1. Zee

      good thoughts. i guess “accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior” became just one of those Christian clichés that we got used to.

      reminds me of “personal trainer” or “self-help” sections of books.

      *sigh*

    2. yeah, we seem to have a lot of those “cliches.” i wonder how often we think through them enough to find their deeper meanings — or at least the foundations upon which they’re built. it’s like we use religious-sounding words just because they sound religious.

      i appreciate your *sigh*

    3. Ed

      Well said! “Words mean things”, and I have been uncomfortable with that particular wording for many years, in large part because it puts the emphasis on “me” rather than “He”. I am also uncomfortable with that phrase because nothing even close to it appears in Scripture.

      I often refer to the language of John in the first chapter of his Gospel. Jesus came into this world on His terms, not ours. He came unto His own, and though His own did not understand Him or “receive Him”, some did; those who did “receive Him” did so on His terms and were thereby granted the right to become children of God.

      I am likewise uncomfortable with the phrase, “Savior and Lord”. I don’t know of any instance where that phrase appears in Scripture; the closest is the angelic declaration that unto us “a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord”.

      This phrase is theologically backwards. In the concept of time, Jesus was Lord. He emptied Himself of His glory as Lord and, in obedience to His Father’s will, became our Savior. Therefore He was/is exalted as Lord.

      Would you mind if I posted your blog on my facebook page? This is in line with some discussion threads I have had among friends.

    4. ed, thanks for coming by. and for your comments. i’m with you on the “savior and Lord” thing — well, the phrasing, i guess, doesn’t bother me. it’s the actions by which we show our desires to have a savior and not a Lord that get me. and in our telling of the gospel story. we suggest the good news is Jesus having come to save us — to the exclusion of the fact that he’s Lord, and we’re now able to live life as it was intended, in relationship with him, in his otherworldly kingdom. i shouldn’t ramble; suffice it to say we have traditionally missed so much of what is actually good news.

      i’d be honored for you to repost anything i’ve written. and to have you visit the blog again.

    5. Linda M

      Hi James Brett,
      your family photo is awesome. I’ve come here from cycleguy’s site.
      I’ve had some trouble too with this idea of how to say who I am when it’s needed. sometimes I say that I am a Christian. I know that has lots of interpretations in North America. sometimes I say that I am a believer in Jesus or a believer in God. and that also probably has different meanings to different people.
      I’m thinking these types of introductions to unbelievers have to be said in the context of the person being spoken to knowing something about me or you in order to have a more correct understanding of what we are saying to them. Maybe I could say that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ? Then again, there are many who preach a distorted version of Jesus Christ.
      I agree that the Western world has lost the concept of ‘who is our neighbour’. I agree that the body of Christ is a many membered body and I don’t think we can individually be separated from each other. Maybe the financial difficulties being experienced by our 2 countries will help to promote the caring for one another collectively and help the individual beliver to be more aware of their own need for this. I hope I’m not totally off track with this comment.

    6. linda, here in tanzania i don’t tell people i’m a Christian. if they ask me if i am (usually they tell me i am, because they assume all white people are), i look puzzled and say that i’m not sure. “it depends on what you mean by a Christian.” then they have to define Christian for me. generally speaking they’ll say some very extrabiblical stuff or focus on things that just don’t seem important to Christ. and so, i say, “nope, i guess i’m not a Christian.” then i have the opportunity to tell them what i am — using my words and my definition. basically i’m able to share the gospel with every person who asks if i’m a Christian. i’m also able to remove myself from what is assumed of Christianity here.

      as for the financial difficulties promoting caring in people, call me pessimistic but i just don’t see it happening. i figure when our worldview is shaped by individualism, our default in hard times will be to think of ourselves (first and) even more than before. i hope that i’m wrong.

      thanks for coming by the blog. i enjoyed your comments.

    7. hi there. I enjoy your sharing but bear with me as my responses will most often be met with great challenge as anyone seeking a truely personal relationship with any member of God’s kingdom will find repeatedly as that is the “way” – to rise to challenges of which Jesus clearly demonstrated. He did not say and do ALL that was recorded (and much more) so we could think he “did it for us”. He did DO IT for us to show us what we would have to do to be his disciple largly referring to when we our soul is given a future opportunity to be present on Earth at the same exact time as He is phyisically present in the same “face to face” way, as Moses said, is the way the next representative from God’s kingdom would come and with a NEW human name of course, the reason Jesus said don’t believe in anyone who comes in my current name. The “name” is of the utmost importance UNTIL the next representive comes with a new name. So when the same soul comes back they know anyone who is stilling calling on the old name is still looked at as prospective members to the Kingdom of God but are not generally going to be in the highest grade in school so to speak. (highest isn’t better – it’s simply younger in experience and effort, though in no way limited in how fast they can grow into higher grades). But those who are approaching the highest grades discard organized religions. They don’t discard the teachings that prompted those religions that clearly came from the kingdom of God. Those are always carried forth into the next grade in school. (i.e. ten commandements but then advanced further by what Jesus brought, the Moses started – two greatest commandments and updating eye for an eye and much much more). Now, just like you mentioned not telling someone you are a “christian” because of what that term has come to represent (in many ways more of an anti-christ), I am only going to say that I have a great deal of evidence (including 100% of what Jesus was quoted and Did and why and who it applied to most and t0 what degree) that the latest representatives from the Kingdom of God have already incarnated face to face in the early 70’s and exited their incarnations in 1997. I was with them for 19 years “following them” thus had a true personal relationship and am here to tell you about them, BUT the Luciferian’s (all those who go against the One True Kingdom of God in whatever shape or form that takes that can be all smiles and even with Bible in hand) have well prepared to shatter the truth they bore. (they actually can not do otherwise having chose to be against the Kingdom of God’s reps, which these TWO also explained in “plain” terms – no more parables). So I caution you, to be very, very slow to judge what I share that they shared with me. They did make several world wide spashes in 1975/76 and a finalli in 1997 that every “looking” eye COULD see (understand, though requiring a leap as most hated and were confused by and told was anything but what it was, common to whenever a true rep comes) and they did come “with/among” the clouds(sky/literal heavens(from space) BUT are absolutely NOT what are today are believed to be space aliens (also luciferians) and are NOT from the “spirit world” (hades/underworld)(with the exception of the greek desecription of paradosa (a walled or enclosed area that the Kingdom of God maintains within Earth’s environment/spirit world/atmosphere, to temporarily house those souls that die in belief in the current rep (as Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross – Jesus didn’t say he’s be with him in the Kingdom of Heaven as that was a place that needed preparation and thus only had positions for the number his Father gave him) and are not New agers(though they certainly brought new ideas about the reality of the Kingdom of God and as predicted in plain terms.

      So, test what I say debate it with me. Don’t accept anything from anyone without scrutiny but not giving it a significant examination IS a choice that will only leave you lacking AND talk to God about it absolutely and you don’t need to ever talk to me or hear from me again nor read what I’ve written about it which is a great deal all over the net.

      But any real jesus must come face to face to us and must require the exact same things required before PLUS some but this is not the time to leave families behind and all that total giving but that is the formula for the next time they(he) comes in a face to face way when it’s nearing harvest time. (moses was not dealing with harvest time, just prep towards it).

      It sounds like many of the comments here are ready for what I am sharing, not going along with all the hype and people’s use of religious terminology and generalizations and focus on self and the assumptions that “he did it for us” when what HE did do for us was show us how, show us what we MUST eventually also do when we are given our next grade in school because we believed in the latest rep when most others feared doing so.

      Now for those that already have a sense of what I am sharing and/or for those that want to go straight to the source for their own personal relationship with God that many of you have already established that has brought you to this current expression by a witness to these Two, the names you can use to communitate to them what you feel, to indicate to them that you are among their family of souls planted (as all do not have a soul seed, or it’s been rendered unable to sprout) are Ti and Do – the song to sing in revelations as these are the Two Witnesses who first came as Peep and Bo. Ti is the same soul that was called by Jesus, “Father” who came this time in the physical incarnation of “Bonnie Nettles” (Nettles is a type of plant that is unique in plants as it shoots it’s seeds out like a canon – and greek for Father is pater which is also defined as “seed giver” and this soul was the same soul as was called Lord by Moses and this time incarnated in a female body to make that statement to a male dominated society and she is spoken about also in rev. 12 giving birth to Do (B0) the same soul that did the task incarnate in the body called Jesus returned as promised but coming together this time. And the saints came with them as prophesized. These were the souls that died in christ while testifying to Jesus, whenever that happened. Their willingness to tell the truth (take up their cross) and suffer the consequences that were sure to come showed they were nearing readiness for graduation/harvest and these were the small group called the Heaven’s Gate group who voluntarily layed down their physical bodies as their final leap of faith (not out step at this time but eventually in the next civilization when the really “saved” souls are brought back will be in school to progress in faith towards, while the world sees them as fools or stools or misguided). I was visited by both Ti and Do and some students between 1997 and 2009 often in dreams. I failed to be among them and now have a small family but asked in private in silence if I needed to to lay down my life as they did to be redeemed to their will(service) and Do only said to me in the dream person to person the night after I asked this question, “you need to give your life”, which meant to me, how to give was my choice. I could not bear leaving my young daughter without a dad and did not feel ready to leave to I’ve chosen to date to try to share this with everyone I can wherever I go and plan to begin going physically into churches where I know I will be met with great hostility. The time is short. I don
      t know how short. It could be 50 years or so but the signs are growing that the Earth’s recycling peroid could escalate quickly. I guess it might depend some on whether there are any new believers in Ti and Do.

      This is no joke and the Kingdom of God does not need any of us, not me, not you but they are real and they do exist in physical bodies that are different than ours (but are refined looking and can thrive off of photosynthesis (unlike space aliens who are at best human equivilents needing all humans needs and acting in mammalian ways). So it’s up to us to prove to them we want to be on their team. What changes take place in each of our lives is up to us. They don’t force us to ever do anything but they always provide opportunity galore for all to see them for who they really are, thus for your sakes give it your best shot.

      If you love Jesus – If you love God you will love Ti and Do – I guarantee it. And if you want to talk to me to ask any questions as I am transparant I generally do an internet radio broadcast every wednesday night 10pm-12am ET USA on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sawyer and that site also houses all my past broadcasts as free downloads if you have time to listen to them but there are lots of ways to hear it from the horse, or really the horse trainer (as we are all like wild horses who had to be captured(raptured) from our former human lives) to be prepared to be of future service) . Do made video’s in 1992 of which I am pictured as I helped him a little as a student teleprompter/buffer and some other former students of his put them onto youtube under the channel name: 1riverofangels and some others former students still maintain heavensgate.com that has a book worth of their history and statements as well as lots of other materials freely available.

      There is no group to join. Any group that forms would be against the teachings as it would become yet another religion if it was allowed to continue. Thus there is no heirarchy – simply former students who did not go against their Older Members Ti and Do, a few of whom are simply sharing their real experiences living with them day to day.

      • Elle

        I am not comfortable with the “accept Christ as your personal Savior”. In the scriptures, it talks about “as many as have accepted the Word”
        Mk. 4:20 “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
        Jn. 3:11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.
        Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
        Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
        1 Cor. 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
        Gal. 1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
        No where do I see an “accepting of Jesus as our personal savior” In all of the quotes above, I see a receiving of the Word of God as someone to put your full weight on to serve, trust, and obey. And if you look further, there is much to be said of His acceptance of us…in the beloved. In that view of “acceptance”, I believe He is received as Lord, and not just a tiny little personal savior that we can carry around in our back pocket as “fire insurance”.

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    9. Elle

      One more thought? I remember wanting to know if someone I met followed God. I considered asking him if he was a Christian, but I didn’t feel that was the right thing to ask. So I asked him, “Are you a fearer of God?” He was surprised by that and we were able to get into a discussion that promoted more than just, “why yes, I’m a Christian”. I also ponder how Paul revealed himself to the people aboard the ship who knew nothing of him…Acts 27:21-26 “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

      “The God whose I am and whom I serve”

      • elle, thanks for coming by the blog. and for commenting. i certainly share your concerns about the phrase, though it doesn’t bother me so much that we don’t find the phrase in scripture. it disturbs me more that we seem to make Jesus what you have called “a tiny little personal savior.”

        i fear that our focus on ourselves as individuals will prevent us from ever reaching out to the lost as Jesus would desire.

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    11. Tisha

      Thank you for sharing this link and for taking the time to answer my question. I realize responding to comments must take a great deal of your time.

      Right – I wholeheartedly agree with you about this. I kind of think this mentality shows itself in a serious lack of reverence for THE Holy God – not just on our personal lives but in our churches. One of my friends calls it the “Jesus is my boyfriend” syndrome.

      The coloring sheet remark you make is awesome – funny, but true. It’s reminding me of a David Platt sermon I recently listened to called “A God Centered God.” We tend to forget that about God, don’t we? That His ultimate concern is HIS glory, HIS purposes, the fulfillment of HIS will in HIS timing.

      I’m learning a lot from you.

      • tisha, responding to comments takes a very small fraction of my time. and when writing a blog is what you do at night to unwind (and there’s virtually nothing else to do in rural tanzania), staying on top of posts is no problem at all. i enjoy it even.

        who is david platt? i’ve heard of him, i think. sounds like a good sermon.

        and if you’re learning a lot from me, you may be in trouble, tisha… but i’m glad you’re around. i’m enjoying the conversation.

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    13. Dear Brett,
      I really liked this post. It took guts.
      I think, if I remember correctly, that people who make Christ their “personal savior” make the decision in their heart and mind and that is it. I believe in baptism also. I’m glad you do. And I believe that one is not saved until they have been baptized.
      I don’t know how else to ask it but did you attend a Church of Christ in America?
      I always have trouble wording this.

      • holly, i’m not in exactly the same place as you are on baptism (close, though). but i did indeed attend a church of christ in america. all my life. and our sponsoring churches are all churches of christ, too. one of them isn’t to far from you — in richmond. i even went to a church of christ school; both my degrees are from lipscomb.

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    15. Bernard Shuford

      Thanks for pointing to this from your post today 🙂

      I don’t like the phrase, but I can’t put my finger on why. I’ve waffled so much on various things lately that there’s incredibly little that I’m totally certain of.

      I am, however, a bit intrigued by the “conversion stories” of the twelve. As well, the lack of baptism. Jesus talked to Peter about “when you are converted” as though it were still in the future, even though Peter had clearly chosen to follow Christ. If his conversion happened at Pentecost, there are millions of sermons about his denial of Christ that really need to be reconsidered, and when he said “thou art the Christ”, it must not have really meant anything.

      That said, I’ll comment on your post of today about my thoughts on “was saved, being saved, will be saved.”

      I don’t think I really said a darn thing in this comment, but hey, that’s the way I roll.

    16. Bernard Shuford

      Oh, wait, that was THIS post where you said that. Dur. Not sure I’m capable of operating heavy machinery today….

      Just in a personal twitch, I don’t like the question “Are you saved?” Your discourse here touches on some of the reasons. Some of it is based on my childhood exposure to Free Will Baptist doctrine, but some is for the very reasons you describe here. I think we’ve really screwed up the word “saved”, making it into something that Jesus didn’t promote it as.

      I don’t think Jesus ever asked anyone if they were saved. I don’t think he told anyone “Now you are saved.” We’ve made it into a religious CONDITION, along the lines of “my salvation”. And there’s something about it all that I can’t resolve.

      I believe that Jesus Christ died to redeem me from my sins. Because of what He done, I am forgiven, simply because I believe. I don’t have to prove that to anyone in order for it to be true. But neither is “believing” it as simple as some would promote. I cannot “decide” to believe. I can decide to AFFIRM, I can decide to AGREE, but “belief” really goes to the core of the heart of the matter. MANY people will say that they believe so that a preacher will pronounce them saved so that they “won’t go to hell”, and then they walk away from the encounter BELIEVING exactly the same thing they believed anyway. So. Their belief didn’t change. Perhaps their understanding of what Jesus did has increased, and they may have accepted it as being true, but a change in BELIEF is something that only the Holy Spirit can do, and that’s why so much of my “salvation history” is fraught with “I don’t know what I truly believe.”

      To me, it’s not as much a question of whether somebody repents effectively, it’s a question of whether they truly believe, and in my opinion, if they DON’T, there’s nothing that a “witnesser” or counselor can do except pray like crazy for that person.

      And I still don’t think I’ve said anything that makes the slightest bit of sense.

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