Now, before you get all upset and think that I am a heretic, I confess that I have submitted my life to Jesus as Lord. I have yielded to his claim upon my life, and I am trusting him for the remission of my sins. I believe what the Bible says about Jesus and his role in procuring salvation for all who put their faith in him. I believe Jesus died upon the cross and that God raised him from the dead! But in spite of all of that, I have not accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and now I’m going to tell you why!
First, I haven’t accepted Jesus as my personal Savior because I don’t know what it means to accept him as such! Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but I have issues with the term ‘personal Savior.’ What does that mean? Does it mean to accept Jesus as Savior in a personal way as opposed to accepting him in a non or impersonal way? Does it mean to accept Jesus as a personal Savior in the same way as one would accept a personal trainer or a personal valet? Does it mean that Jesus is exclusive to the person who accepts him as their personal Savior? Forgive me if I am making a mountain out of a molehill or just quibbling about terminology, but when I came to Jesus over some forty (40) years ago, no one ever referred to Jesus as a ‘personal Savior!’ Therefore, when I came to Jesus over forty (40) years ago, I did not accept him as my personal Savior!
I looked up the word ‘personal’ in the dictionary and I noted a couple of the definitions. One definition was: “Of, relating to, or affecting a particular person: private, individual.” Another definition was: “Intended for private use or use by one person.” Still another said: “Of, relating to, or constituting personal property.” Is my relationship with Jesus a private affair only between Jesus and me? If that is the case, how should I respond to his statement where he said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (Jn. 13:34-35 KJV) Or what about 1 John 4:20-21, where it says: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (KJV)
Now while it is true that one must individually form a relationship (Momma or Daddy can’t do it for you), the Scriptures seem to suggest, being right with God or Jesus is not strictly a personal matter! In other words, the Bible seems to suggest the fact that ‘my’ salvation is not just about me! But wait a minute, I hear you! You are saying that I just answered my question when I said: “Momma or Daddy can’t do it for you!” You say, that’s what it means to accept Jesus as your personal Savior! But doesn’t that go without saying? When I take a shower, it goes without saying that I am personally taking the shower! You would look at me strangely if I told you that I was going to take a personal shower! Does accepting Jesus as my personal Savior mean Jesus belongs to me in the same sense as if Jesus was my personal trainer? It seems to me that such language is not only unbiblical, (you will not find the term or even a suggestion of the concept in the Bible of a personal Savoir) but also confusing! Are you saying Jesus belongs exclusively to you? Are you saying your saving relationship with Jesus is private? Are you saying that Jesus saved you exclusively? My point is this: There is no reference or even a hint of anyone in the New Testament accepting Jesus as their personal Savior! While the phrase may have been intended to help people understand how they as individuals can be saved, I believe it really serves to confuse people and promote the unbiblical idea that salvation is purely personal and private.
Now, here’s another suggestion that will no doubt upset your theological apple cart: I dare suggest that the Bible does not even promote the idea of accepting Jesus as Savior! Let me show you what I’m talking about! One of the staple scriptures presented in evangelizing is Romans 10:9, where Paul said: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (KJV) Look closely at the wording of the text! Paul said that first, one must ‘confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.’ You must confess Jesus, not as Savior, but as Lord! You must accept Jesus as Lord! Then you must believe that God raised him from the dead.
Now, the term ‘lord’ in this verse is not a reference to Jesus being God or divine. No! It is a reference to Jesus being the ruler, the master, the owner! You must submit to Jesus’ claim of ownership and rulership over your life! Note the order and progression: 1) Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (note, for the Romans to confess Jesus as Lord was a dangerous confession because the standard pledge of allegiance of the day was: ‘Caesar is Lord!’), then 2) You must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and then (only after you have completed the first two steps), 3) You shall be saved! In this passage, although Jesus is the Savior, he is not presented as ‘the Savoir who saves’ but rather as ‘the Lord who saves!’ In Romans, Paul does not make an appeal to the Romans to accept Jesus as their Savior, but rather to submit to Jesus as their Lord!
I could go on to further press my claim, but I don’t want to make this post too long! So let me close by saying the preponderous of New Testament literature presents Jesus not as just a ‘Savior.’ And nowhere is Jesus presented as a ‘personal Savior,’ but the overwhelming presentation is that of Jesus as Lord! Therefore, I have not accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, but I have accepted Jesus as my Lord! Yes! He is my Lord! That means Jesus doesn’t belong to me (he’s not mine personally), but rather, I belong to Jesus!