By Earl Trimble
The sixties saw a rebellion against the establishment. The world heard the cry, "Jesus, yes ... the church, no!" One could have a personal relationship with Jesus for successful living, it was thought. That is, one could know Jesus and enjoy a relationship with him existentially, beyond or outside of Scripture and the church. The drudgery of the church with all its trappings was viewed as being unnecessary and undesirable.
Too, the idea one can have a personal association with the Holy Spirit and enjoy certain related benefits such as encouragement, inner strength and a knowledge of sonship with the Father has existed for many years, even among some members of the Lord's church. Denominationalists have had their influence upon the church.
Now there seems to be somewhat of a resurgence of emphasis upon the idea of an existential, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. During recent nationally televised sporting events some athletes on the winning teams have been interviewed who have credited the Lord Jesus for enabling them to accomplish remarkable knockouts, touchdowns and home runs against competing teams, as if Jesus were partisan and favors one sports team over another.
Denominational composers have written most of the songs in song books used by the Lord's church. The catchy song, "Just A Little Talk With Jesus," seems to imply prayer being directed toward Jesus rather than being addressed to the Father. Some church members make unthoughtful remarks in Bible classes that Jesus assists us in direct and personal ways in our attaining certain goals, accomplishing various tasks and in successfully living godly lives.
True, Jesus mediates our redemption and presents our sacrifice of praise to God (1 Tim. 2:5). Knowing our fleshly hindrances, Jesus also intercedes with the Father on our behalf (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:1416; 7:25). Christians are also privileged to intercede in behalf of one another in prayer to God (James 5:16). Regarding Jesus' role in mediating and interceding in our behalf, it should be noted that this occurs before God's throne in heaven and NOT from a personal relationship with us on earth (Rom. 8:34).
At the end of his personal ministry on earth, Jesus ascended back to the Father's right hand in heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Rom. 8:34). Therefore since Jesus is no longer on earth in person, it is impossible for one to have a "personal" relationship with him today, but rather a "spiritual" involvement.
Is it possible for man to know Deity existentially and to have a direct relationship person to person? No, the faithful Christian enjoys a spiritual relationship with Deity-not a personal relationship. The nonChristian cannot even enjoy a spiritual association with the members of the Godhead, much less a persontoperson relationship.