"Accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour" - where does this come from?

So today I opened a box of plastic supplies from a Midwestern company. In the box was a tiny pamphlet with inspirational stories from athletes about the impact Jesus has had in their lives, a note from the company founder about how his life was so much better once he accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour, and a card to mail back somewhere if you were also interested in accepting Jesus for your personal salvation.

I’ve seen this phrase plenty of times before, and I always assumed it was a born-again Christian thing, but now I’m curious to know more. Is the idea of accepting Jesus as your “personal Saviour” characteristic of a particular church or churches? Why the emphasis on personal salvation? And come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this phrased as “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour” - any special reason for that, or did I just miss seeing that example?

as opposed to general salvation?

He is the Savior, how more personal can it be?

God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of the world. If you accept Jesus Christ as your saviour that is if you become a Christian then you accept the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and you have been saved from eternal damnation in hell and you will go to heaven. I think that about answers your question.

In keeping with the factual nature of this forum, let me throw in that I’ve heard that phrase almost exclusively from members of the Baptist Church; evangelicals from other Xtian groups rarely use it.

I don’t think that quite answers the question, parsecs. It is the phrase “personal Savior” that the OP is asking about. Jesus has of course been referred as the Savior since the 1st century and Christians have always talked about the need of accepting him in your heart.

But the phrase “my personal Savior” seems to be a 20th or possibly 19th century invention.

I once asked someone who used it and he replied that it was to stress the direct relation between the individual and Christ, and that they don’t need sacraments, a priest or a church to go to Him. If true, then it is a subtle criticism by some Protestants of Catholic teaching. Or rather their misunderstanding of it.

Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world. If you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal saviour you are accepting the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your personal sins. When you are baptised, you know that little that John the Baptist did to Jesus he baptised he Jesus the name of god. Jesus gave himself for our sins we are said to have been baptisted in the name of Jesus Christ as in all Christian religions. If I am wrong I will appologise but I would rather see a cite than blindly critisized. I know I was born and baptised a Catholic and I know my brother was baptised although I think they say Christened in the Anglican church. I think that’s pretty main stream. I believe Christening and Baptism to be the same thing accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of god who died on the cross for the sin of the world. What’s the hard part to understand?

Don’t you notice that you could leave out the word “personal” from your last post without changing its meaning in the slightest.

People who use the phrase “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior” instead of just “accepting Jesus as your Savior” (which has been used for millenia) presumably mean something by the addition of the extra word. I just don’t know what.

Ever notice when some one get baptised or christened they often do it in person rather than getting someone else to do it for them That is because this is the ritual ceremony for accepting the fact the Jesus is your personal saviour. Your are christened in person you personally have to accept the fact that Jesus died for your personal sins I can’t do this for you. do you understand personal…??? :wally

You won’t find it any where in the whole bible from Genesis to Revelation. It is a more or less contempory thing than the accepted scriptural process of coming to a belief in the scriptures and Jesus as the Messiah or Redeemer, followed by public acknowledgement of same combined with repentance or turning away from a past sinful life. Then baptism or immersion in water for the remission or forgiveness of past sins and arising from the water to begin a new life as a Christian. The necessity of repentence flows from belief and a readiness to do all things that God has commanded. Hence immersion follows resulting in forgiveness of sins as set forth in the Gospels. You won’t find any other way that complies with scripture!

My favorite professor in undergrad, who taught in the Religion department used to tell a story about leading a trip of students to Russia. They stayed in a Russian Orthodox convent during their visit. The Mother Superior met with the students and told them about their history, traditions, and theology. On student, who came from an evangelical background, had trouble understanding Orthodox theology (which is much more focused on the relationship of Christ to the Church–the whole body of believers), and finally asked, “Ok, but do you accept Jesus as your personal Savior?” The Mother Superior paused for a minute, not sure she understood the question. “Personal?” she asked. “You mean like a toothbrush?”

12 Parsecs, relax. Noone is questioning your beliefs.

As has been discussed, the phrase saviour has been around for millenia, and people were being baptised before the time of Jesus. Why does christening mean personal saviour?

Similarly, people always have to accept facts personally. This hasn’t changed at any time, but the phrase “saviour” has changed to “personal saviour”.

Can’t really respond to this without pushing this further into GD territory, but I also have a problem with the use of personal here. Wasn’t Jesus supposed to have died for the sins of everyone?

What difference does it make whether you consider him to have saved “each person in the world” (each individual personally) or “every person in the world” (mankind)? I’m not being snarky here, just don’t get it.

(Alan Smithee, that story’s great. I am going to steal it and use it as my own.)

12 parsecs, my question is indeed about the particular phrase “accepting Jesus as your personal saviour.” As a veteran of 12 years of Catholic school and another 4 years at a Jesuit-run university, I can safely say that I have never heard that particular phrase used by any Catholic clergy. I have heard it from evangelical Christians, though, which is why I asked what I did in my OP.

Azazel, if it’s mainly a Baptist tenet rather than one of the less common evangelical groups, maybe that helps to explain why I’ve heard it so often. TGWATY, that’s an interesting point about perhaps drawing a contrast between (some) Protestant and Catholic perspectives on the relationship between God and the faithful.

Any Baptists about that can shed some more light?

Heh; I remember that preacher/musician Keith Green hated this expression. At one time, he said “Do you think that Jesus Christ will return triumphant, riding a white horse, and written upon his thigh shall be ‘King of kings, Lord of lords, and personal savior!’?”

The phrase is, incidentally, more common among Baptists than among other Protestant sects, but it’s also used by the more evangelically inclined among all denominations. And yes, I’d guess that it is, consciously or unconsciously, a reaction against the intercessory doctrines of the Catholic church. A Protest, one might say.

I’d imagine the roots of the “personal Savior” emphasis, if not the phrase itself, goes back to the 18th-century American & British revivalists such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield & John Wesley, when they thought many people were relying on church membership or nominal family affiliation for salvation- the concept is certainly in the New Testament, however.

I think the phrase arose as a reaction to the legacy of Christendom - where a citizen of a Christian country was assumed to be a member of the church/a Christian without any need for personal faith or belief, much like being born to a Jewish mother makes you Jewish. The Protestant movement emphasised/emphasises the need for each person to make a response to the death of Christ for themselves - the Baptist movement is most voiciferous in this regard, as the doctrine of adult/believer baptisim is so central to their doctrine. The longer established churches tend to emphsise faith as a community while the protestant (esp. the evangelical protestant churches) tend to emphasise personal faith first and community faith second.

Another way I have heard it expressed is “God has no grand-children”, referring to the fact that your parent’s faith has no bearing on your own salvation. Yet another saying goes “Living in a garage doesn’t make you a car”, which translates to “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian”. All of which makes you wonder who thinks these things up :slight_smile:


And linked with that, the concept of being “Born Again” as being an actual experience that happens at a point in time by direct interaction of the Spirit with the Believer, at which point you “become Saved” – as opposed to the Baptism = just-the-start-of-a-whole-lifetime-process POV of many historic churches.

The “do you accept Jesus as your personal savior” usage does confuse some in that maybe it should be “do you personally accept Jesus as your savior”, to convey the meaning that you really believe.

Ok I can see were I have made a mistake and as I said I will apologise. So I will say I made a mistake. However I would like to point out that to be baptised as it says in the bible when you are baptised you must realise your salvation and repent your sins. A child likewise cannot be baptised only dedicated to the service of the lord. So in making the jump from saviour to personal saviour, I didn’t see the exact problem. When I repent my personal sins it is a personal act between me and god. I didn’t see how this could be complicated as it is not something that someelse can do for me. As in the case with infants who cannot be baptised only dedicated because they cannot realise their salvation nor repent their sins.

Please feel free to question my beliefs, I don’t believe half the nonsense that goes in the name of religion and will be quit pleased to see the day the funds from the liquidation of these blemishes on society help solve some important issues that we face. After spending 14 years at church RC and Anglican boarding schools I don’t give hoot about religion though I had figured this as a simply to answer question rather than a debate over semantics.

First, though possibly more common in the Baptist churches, the phrase certainly is in common usage among many protestants (especially those coming from evangelical traditions). grimpixie and JRDelirious have made good points. The phrase emphasizes the belief that a personal decision to trust in the work of Jesus for your salvation is necessary and this results in a personal relationship between you and God. That is to say, you have a personal reaction in your life to this decision, and you are able to communicate personally with God through prayer and the Bible. This is opposed to a “watchmaker” type theology where God set things in motion but is then uninvolved in the lives of individuals after this. It is also in tension with the need for any other person (e.g., a priest or the pope) as an intermediary and the necessity of the sacraments. Being a comitted Christian, I personally don’t like this phrase as I think it tries to tug at emotions rather than convey information about what we believe. It just reminds my of the types of buzzwords that come out of the business consulting world that often don’t have any real meaning.

TGWATY , you seemed to be hinting that Protestants may be misunderstanding of the position of the Catholic church. Quickly Googling, I found this walkthrough of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which specifically discusses the necessity of the sacraments of baptism and confession, and also of the RC priest as mediator. Am I misunderstanding the RC position on the necessity of these things?

It has been my experience, growing up in and around Anabaptist Evangelicals, that “personal saviour” has become a tired and much overused cliche. Sadly enough the AEs around me are most YEC Fundies. They also tend to dislike the term fundamentalist immensely, but insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis. Go figure.

Where, specifically in Scripture does it say the term “accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior”, word for word, exactly? If not there, then when and where was the specific turn of phrase invented. Please answer this direct question.