Interestingly, there are two definitions of the word “personal” and they often intertwine. But in the case of faith, the two definitions really need to be separated.
Definition one is “of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.” This definition fits well with our Christian faith. Your faith in Jesus is personally planted in your heart by the Holy Spirit, who does his work on your heart via the Bible and Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Many people may share your faith. But your faith and your relationship to God is yours. No one can force this faith on you, as John the apostle points out in his gospel: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13, NIV).
Definition two is “of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions rather than matters connected with one’s public or professional career.”
Look at anyone in the Bible who was a disciple of Jesus and you’ll soon realize that with faith in Jesus, what’s there privately in our hearts will always make it’s way publicly out of our mouth. It’s called professing our faith. And all the disciples written about in the Bible did it.
Paul says that publicly professing our faith is actually a necessary response to having faith in our hearts — necessary, that is, in the sense that it will always occur. Paul himself is a great example of this. We read about Paul in the days following his conversion to faith in Jesus that, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20, NIV).
It’s such an important distinction for every Christ-follower to understand. Is your Christian faith personal? Of course! It’s deeply personal! Your relationship with Jesus is your relationship with him, and it belongs to no one else but you. You filter your life, your thoughts, your emotions, and your experiences through the “eyes” of faith that the Holy Spirit has given you.
Is your Christian faith private? Only if you are living in fear rather than faith. Because the most natural act of the person who believes in Jesus is “at once” to profess to others that Jesus is the Son of God.
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame'” (Romans 10:8-11, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Monday, July 27, is 1 Chronicles 2:18 – 4:8, Romans 10:8 – 11:10 and Proverbs 18:7-16.
Lord, help me to profess with my mouth what I believe in my heart about Jesus.