These words from J. C. Ryle in his book “Holiness” written over 100 years ago speak to our current Evangelical climate very well:
For one thing, keep before your mind, as an ever-present truth, that the Lord Jesus is an actual, living Person, and deal with Him as such.
I fear the personality of our Lord is sadly lost sight of by many professors in the present day. Their talk is more about salvation than about the Saviour – more about redemption than about the Redeemer – more about justification than about Jesus – more about Christ’s work than about Christ’s person. This a great fault, and one that fully accounts for the dry and sapless character of the religion of many professors.
As ever, you would grow in grace and have joy and peace in believing, beware of falling into this error. Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty, living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard it as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious, personal Friend. This is the kind of Gospel that the Apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love, and mercy, and pardon, in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ. This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and meetness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that heaven where Christ’s personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face, as to realize communion with Christ, as an actual living Person here on earth.
There is all the difference in the world between an idea and a person.