Question: "How can I have a relationship with Jesus?"
Answer: A relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship a person can have. A relationship with Jesus results in new life (Ephesians 2:4–5); forgiveness (Colossians 1:14); the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17); and, in the future, bodily resurrection and a home in heaven (John 14:19; Philippians 3:20–21).
To establish a relationship with Jesus is not difficult. Jesus Himself came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10); He has issued the invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28); He has called for our trust (John 14:1); and He has spoken to us as “friends” (John 15:14–15). So, Jesus is certainly willing to have a relationship with us.
Having a relationship with Jesus is based on God’s grace, through faith. To understand, we need to look at a few relatively simple truths found in the Bible:
The first truth we need to recognize in order to have a relationship with Jesus is that, naturally, our relationship with God is broken. We have sinned against Him. We have done things that are wrong in His sight. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s standard is perfection—since He is absolutely holy—and we all fall short of that standard. We each need to humble ourselves before God and admit our sin.
To have a relationship with Jesus, we also need to understand the biblical truth that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Wages” are payment for what we do. So, the payment or result of our sin is “death”—this is speaking of spiritual death, eternal separation from God in the place the Bible calls hell.
To have a relationship with Jesus, we also need to grasp a third truth—and this is a wonderful one: God loves us in spite of our sins, and He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, as our Substitute. “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8, NLT). He didn’t wait for us to clean up our act or somehow overcome our sin (an impossibility); rather, He sacrificed Himself for us while we were still estranged from Him. He chose to take the punishment that we deserved. He took our place!
Then, we need to admit that there’s absolutely nothing we can do to save ourselves or to contribute to our salvation. On the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, God forgives our sins by grace, that is, by an undeserved blessing. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). The Lord Jesus has already done all the work (John 19:30), and He did it perfectly! Salvation is not about what we can do but about what Christ has done.
Knowing these truths from Scripture, you can have a relationship with Jesus by receiving Him by faith. Turn from your sin and trust Jesus and His finished work on the cross to have paid for your sins. Call out to Him as the Risen Savior who conquered death once and for all. Accept Him as your Lord and Master. The Bible promises, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV).
You can receive Jesus by faith and thus begin a relationship with Him this very moment, right where you are, as you read these words! You can express your faith in Him by praying a prayer similar to this:
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. But I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
Remember that God is not as concerned about the exact words you use as He is about the attitude of your heart. He sees your faith.