The Bible states that when you are born again God gives you a gift

Romans 6:23b NET “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This gift is defined – the Bible explaining and interpreting the Bible

John 17:3 NET “Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”

The Greek word we have interpreted as “know” in this verse is the same word used for “Joseph did not know Mary until Jesus was born” (Matthew 1:25)

“[He] did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.” (Matthew 1:25 NET)

So we have been given the supernatural ability to have a personal relationship – to intimately know – God the Father and Jesus.

Intimacy = Becoming one with 

The Christian faith then is not a religion — it is an intimate, personal relationship with God

The Christian faith is a daily, ever deepening, very dynamic, personal, unique (because you are unique), intimate love relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent; empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term, committed relationships with other disciples who follow Jesus in a local family of God (the Church). 

My point: Christianity is not about holding to a list of rules, rituals, regulations … It is a personal relationship with God and with others who also value their relationship with the Living God.

This is a very important distinction we are making between religion and relationship and influences how we view the Christian faith…

        • Religion — Relationship
        • Christian — Disciple
        • Personal and private — Corporate and life together
        • Believe then belong — belong and then come to believe
        • Disciple a person after they are born again – discipleship starts when first become spiritually hungry and asks that first question
        • Head knowledge (information) — heart touched (transformation)

There are four main elements of the Christian faith

1> The Bible – God’s written Word

2> Prayer – Communicating with God

3> Fellowship – Relating to  God and to others

4> Ministry – Sharing His love with others

The issue that I see is that many people have these four elements in their life but follow them religiously 

        • Legalistically 
        • As rules to be followed 
          • 3 chapters of the Bible
          • Daily prayer and a time of worship
          • Church attendance weekly
          • Coffee with other believers before or after service

And, they often feel guilty or out of sorts if they miss doing any one of these things 

So they literally have a “religion” — a born again religion but a religion nonetheless

Rules, regulations, rituals, rigamarole that we follow to be right with God and the Church (others)

Because we have a born again religion – and not a focused personal love relationship with   God — the four basic elements of the Christian faith get all messed up

Let’s look at the four basic elements of the faith comparing a religious approach with a relational (relationship) approach

1> The Bible – God’s written Word

If you are holding to a religion then you are reading your Bible because you are told you must or should … somehow that was communicated to you

When I was first born again the rule was to read three chapters a day

You read the Bible to gain information 

You read the Bible to get to know the basic stories of the faith

You read the Bible to fulfill an obligation of the faith

You read the Bible because it makes you feel good

You read the BibleThis engages yas if there is a test to pass before you can get into heaven

Religion causes the Bible to become a head thing!

If you are working on developing and deepening your relationship with God

You read the Bible simply to know the Author better – not for more information or knowledge

You read the Bible to give God’s Word an opportunity to change your heart – Transformation and inner heart (spirit) change

You read the Bible because it is life-giving and you hunger for it

Matthew 4:4 NET “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The word “comes” in the Greek is a tense we don’t have in English and it should read: “every word that continuously proceeds or comes from the mouth of God”

It is a daily thing — Like we eat daily food to nourish our body every day we are to receive spiritual food for our spirit and soul every day

You read the Bible to hear the voice of God speaking to you personally

In your Bible the word “word” is translated from two different Greek words

Logos – the Word of God generic and written on the pages of Scripture 

This engages your mind and good for information 

Rhema – The Word of God spoken to you personally in your current situation or circumstance

Your heart and needed for transformation – life-change

You read the Bible to build your relationship with God and to personally hear Him speak to you

Romans 10:17 NASB “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

The word “Word” here is Rhema – God personally speaking to you

You read the Bible to receive revelation – God revealing things to you personally

So religion says: Read 3 chapters a day and learn information – head

Relationship says: Hear God speak to you personally through His Word and let it transform your heart and your life and increase your level of faith

Thus it does not matter how much you read – What matters is that God speaks to you through what you read – revelation that brings transformation (change)

Hebrews 4:12 NET “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.”

Jesus said: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63)

Thus they should be touching your spirit and imparting (releasing) life (His life – Zoë)

John 1:4 “In Him was life (Zoë) and the life was the light of men”

2> Prayer

Religion says:

      • Pray this way
      • Pray this written prayer
      • Prayer lists of needs and wants (shopping list)
      • Prayer for others we know and love

Religious people have a set time to pray and do so daily as it is a general rule to follow if you are a good believer

Religious people come to God and “ask the Father” for what they need … and it is often the same list over and over again

Religious people initiate the conversation and choose the topic they are praying about 

Paul writes to the Galatians and states:

Galatians 3:3 NET “Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?”

How did we get saved?

Well we found Jesus! No you didn’t. He was not lost, you were. He found you!

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God initiated – He sent Jesus

We responded and received the gift of eternal life

So, Paul asks, having begun this way — God initiated and we responded— why now in prayer do you reverse that and you initiate and expect God to respond? 

Religious people initiate and expect God to respond like a good servant or heavenly butler

People who have a relationship with God understand that He is God and we are not and so let God speak first and then respond to what we hear Him speak

In our relationship with God prayer is less about ‘receiving’ and more about hearing and responding

Then we will change, grow, develop, mature

Then our prayers will be answered because we are praying according to His Word and His will

1 John 5:14-15 NET “And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.”

Religious prayer is “pastoral” — about us, our needs, and wants; And about other people’s needs 

Relational prayer is “prophetic” — as we respond to what God has revealed and pray according to His Rhema words

Bible reading and study, prayer are all about us changing and growing; maturing and being equipped… and deepening our relationship with God

3> Fellowship 

Religion gives us opportunity to fellowship with each other as we gather for religious events like worship, teaching, prayer, and Bible study

We share with each other as the program moves forward

Being careful to keep it on a surface level as we really don’t know others well

We don’t trust other Christians so we try not to get too personal

We don’t believe that others really care so why share


There are basically three levels of sharing: public, personal, private

We work at keeping everything on the public, surface level of sharing

We have a cup of coffee and share “fellowship” with others …

And the conversation stays safe, impersonal, and definitely not about Jesus

When we see the Christian faith as a matter of relationships and not a religion (set of beliefs) then we see fellowship totally different

1 John 1:1-3 NET “This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life – and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ).”

This is saying:

We each have a relationship with God and so we share fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus

And then, on the basis of our personal relationship with Him we can come together and then share fellowship with each other 

And that fellowship with each other involves Him because He is there when two or three gather in His Name (Matthew 18:20)

The topic of our coffee fellowship is what we have “seen, heard, and touched concerning the Word of life – Jesus”

In this fellowship we share with each other what we have seen, heard, and touched during our personal time of fellowship with Him

We share our revelation … What God has spoken to us (Rhema)

This fellowship is primarily with the Holy Spirit 

2 Corinthians 13:14 (13:13) NET “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

“Fellowship” has three basic actions or meaning:

A> Socially interact with the Spirit (see, hear, touch, respond)

B> Partner with Him (we are the junior partner)

C> Become involved in what the Spirit is currently doing during your day

Then when you come together with others – relationships with other believers – you have amazing things to share and talk about – true God-based fellowship

Relationships are foundational to:

1> The Bible – reading and studying

2> Prayer – hearing God’s voice and responding

3> Fellowship – sharing a common worldview and experience with other believers

4> Ministry – sharing the love of God with others (believers and non-believers)

In religion ministry can be and usually is very impersonal

A priest ministers the sacraments – you don’t really know him

A pastor counsels you and you have only a fairly surface relationship with him

A person prays for you at a prayer meeting or in a prayer line … very impersonal

A person witnesses to a stranger and shares the Gospel

In the Christian faith all ministry is always based in and arises out of relationships

First – our relationship with God in whose Name and by whose power we minister

Then our relationship with others – saved and unsaved

Ministry is the overflow of the love and life that we experience in our relationship with the Spirit

God pours His love into our hearts when we are born again (Romans 5:5)

We then walk in that love and give it away 

Philippians 1:9 “And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else…”

You cannot give what you have not got …

Jesus told us:

John 13:35 NET “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

As we share with others with whom we have a relationship we share His love and His life (Zoë)

Ministry then is based in relationships  

Ministry is “walking in God’s love and giving it away” to those we have a relationship with

Four elements or aspects:


1> The Bible 

2> Prayer

3> Fellowship

4> Ministry

In religion these are simply programs with no life and little real love … rules, regulations, rituals, traditions

Based and founded in relationships these same four elements are very powerful and life-changing

1> The Bible – your hear God (Rhema) speak to you, you receive revelations, you grow and are changed from the inside out

2> Prayer – you hear God speak and you respond knowing God’s plan and current purpose. Prayers are dynamic and always answered as you pray according to His Word

3> Fellowship – with our heavenly father and with the Holy Spirit and then you can share what you have seen, heard, and touched with others. Sharing fellowship with others encourages and brings believers together as we share on a very meaningful and personal level

4> Ministry is the overflow of all of the above so others will be touched and changed, even saved. 

The Christian faith is build upon relationships – our personal relationship with God and then our relationships with others — believers and non-believers. 

So much different and more powerful than religion!

We have been talking about: Less Religion – More Relationship

Really we should have called it: No Religion – All Relationship