Do Christians need to “fully surrender” to God?

My 16-year-old and I attended a mother/daughter Bible Study this past Sunday in which the overall message presented to the teenage girls was to “dream big” for God.  To dream up grand ideas.  To imagine bold plans.  To further God’s kingdom while solidifying your own faith.

A supporting argument was, “if you are fully surrendered to Him, then He will be able to use you.”

But what does it mean to be fully surrendered to Him?  I’ve been meditating on this question for the past five days.  In order to fully surrender to God, what are the prerequisites and requirements?  What are the markers used to determine the halfway mark, for example, and how will you know when you’ve reached “full” status?  How will you know when completion has been achieved?

My opinion is that you will never know.  The idea is too nebulous to ever be achieved.  Because the fact is:  He is the One who is fully surrendered to you.

Jesus Christ Himself – The Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us — was fully surrendered to God.  God Himself left His heavenly realm, was born through a virgin, lived a sinless life and eventually paid the ultimate sacrifice:  He died.  What He did on the hill of Calvary by dying for the sins of the world was nothing less than full surrender.  You can’t get any more surrendered than that.

To tell a room full of teenage girls that they must be fully surrendered to God, without specifically defining the exact meaning of that phrase, is, I feel, insulting the work of Jesus on the cross.

But is there any place at all for surrender in a Christian’s life?

Well, yeah, there is.  First, we must surrender to the gospel.  And second, we must surrender to the New Covenant.

Surrendering to the gospel is the primary work that a human must achieve.  Otherwise, you remain in a state of death – spiritual death.  So, first, believe in the gospel, and receive the life of God through faith, by His grace.  That is the main WORK an earthling is required to do.

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.””  John 6:28-27

Believe in, trust in, rely on, depend on and fully surrender to the fact that Jesus Christ alone provided for the forgiveness of sins, and that He alone can offer to you the Holy Spirit of God which gives life to your mortal soul.  A simple prayer to the Creator is all that is required to accomplish this work.  Say yes to Him; tell Him you want to accept His free gift.

“Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.”  Jesus’ words in John 6:47.

After you receive the Spirit of life and are born from above – just as the Israelites wandered around for 40 years – you also will inevitably spend a few years of wandering in the wilderness of Churchianity.  But after you realize that your devotion to religion is empty, then you are ready to fully surrender to the New Covenant.  This is not a burden.  Surrendering to the New Covenant is like crossing the Jordan River.  It may take a bit of struggle to make it across, a bit of wrestling.  (The word Israel means, “He who wrestles with God.”)

So wrestle with God!  And then surrender to His grace!

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Surrendering to the New Covenant means that you have come to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins.   It means that you no longer quote 1 John 1:9 to get forgiven.  You have come to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished.”   You realize that the sin issue between you and God actually is finished.

God had to forgive the sins of the world and cast those transgressions as far as the east is from the west, so that He could clear the slate, wipe the table clean and finally have a bunch of humans – forgiven humans – to whom He could make an offer.

The offer is this: “Will you eat from the Tree of Life?”

So, do you see how surrender to the New Covenant allows you to understand the gospel in which you believed?  To really grasp that the two are part of one whole?  Things finally makes sense!  You are no longer trying to put new wine into old wineskins.  You have walked through the door.  You are finally inside the Promised Land of Rest.

Don’t let anyone judge you or condemn you for resting.  Don’t let anyone put a burden on you by saying you must fully surrender your life to God, and by implying that God is waiting for you to shape up, and if you don’t, He will ship you out.  When they essentially say that God is powerless and impotent without your FULL surrender…  just remember that it’s a lie.

Lies keep you in bondage; God wants to lead you into all truth, because the truth sets you free.

“But when He the, Spirit of truth, shall come, He will guide you into all the truth.”  Jesus’ words in John 16:13

 

 

You are a forgiven person — period

If you seek to be obedient to God, then you must love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.  These two commandments are the summary of all of the commandments listed in the Law of Moses.  In your attempt, you must never falter and never veer off course.  You must love God and your neighbor for every minute of every day for your entire life. (Mark 12, Matthew 22, Luke 10)

You know what you must do, and you must do it perfectly.  You should give this your best effort.  Your greatest attempt.

Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

If you fail for even one moment, you are completely guilty; it is as if you failed continually for your entire life.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10)

At this point, you should see that you are hopeless.  You should feel the heaviness of ‘the impossible’ weighing you down.  You should embrace the dark enormity of this empty void.  Because simply by knowing what is good and what is evil, you can in no way obey the Law of God. (Genesis 2:17)

Allow the Law to kill you and to bring a complete end to any attempts at obedience.   Afterall, “the Law brings death, but the Spirit brings life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

You are now ready for the Good News.  You are now ready to enter the Promised Land of Rest!  You are now ready to acknowledge the complete forgiveness of your sins.

Being set free from the Law allows you to live a life of rest knowing that Jesus Christ has done it all – He has done all the work.  Your only job now is to live in the fulfillment of the Sabbath Day.

Live as a forgiven person!  Give no thought to guilt or condemnation when you sin – He has dealt with your sin.  But do talk to Him about it, of course.  Talk to the Lord continually, and pour out your heart to Him at all times.  Allow Him to teach you that He has no expectations of you; that only He could be a perfectly obedient human.

Live as a forgiven person!  The Law came to an end when Jesus Christ fulfilled it here on earth, so do not think in terms of “sin” and “repentance.”  It is the Law that defines sin, and therefore, you are free from sin, since you have been set free from the Law. (Romans 6:16-18)

Live as a forgiven person!  Grow in the grace that He has for you.  You are finally free to grow as a new creation as you get to know your kind, forgiving and loving Savior.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Did God create sin and evil?

Did God create sin and evil?

A homeschooled teenage girl asked me this question last week:  she basically said, “I would never want to say that God is at fault for all of the sin and evil in the world, yet as the Creator of this world, why isn’t He the One to blame?” 

I was the substitute teacher in her Government class (part of a large homeschool co-op that meets two days a week.)  I wanted to begin the class with a discussion before I played the DVD that the teacher had provided for me.  I began by asking the teens…

“What is government?”  “And why do we need to be governed?”  “What is wrong with us humans anyway?  Animals don’t need to be governed!”

We never got to the DVD.  Instead, we spent the hour in discussion.  Teenagers have a lot of questions!  And, I have found that with a correct understanding of the gospel, all of our questions can be answered.

Why is God doing things this way?  Simply put, He is doing things this way, because the end result will be an eternity of love and communion spent with His dearly beloved children.  He is doing things this way, because He has made us so much greater than the animals and even all of the angelic host; He will know us and we will know Him.  What He has done is that He has made us his FRIENDS.

– – –  and just pause for a minute to consider being best friends with the One who made 150 billion galaxies –  –  –

The discussion I had with those teenagers that day kept returning to the question of evil.  They want to know why — WHY! — is there sin and evil in this world?  First, you must consider the unique design of Adam and Eve.  God made them alive.  He breathed life into them.   He gave them “the breath of life.”  He created the animals to also contain the “breath of life,” but it is a totally different set of Hebrew words compared with the Genesis 2:7 “breath of life” that the first man and woman received.

Second, you must acknowledge that the life that was contained within the breast of Adam and Eve was the very life of God Himself.  Since Adam and Eve were created to contain the Spirit of God within their body (Genesis 2:7), they had the capacity to have a close, personal, deep friendship with their God.

And, third, you must realize that ‘the law of sin and death’ caused Adam and Eve to die when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When they died, when their life was lost – through their sin and unbelief – they were no longer able to live according to their unique design.  From then on, mankind became capable of committing tremendous evil.

Think about it, Cain murdered his brother Able.  Yikes!  Talk about starting things off on the wrong foot.

That first murder reveals that humanity was no longer able to function in the way that we were designed.  By Genesis chapter 6, about a 1,000 years after creation….

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Genesis 6:5

Because after Adam and Eve sinned and died, every child of theirs was born in the image of Adam:  sinful and dead (Genesis 5:3).  Unlike Adam and Eve, humans are no longer born “in the image of God.”  We are born in the image of death, of emptiness, of sinfulness.

Why did God allow this to happen?  Why did He create a world where evil could exist?

Could He not have done things differently?

Well, yeah, but that would require us to be made like the animals.

Animals are perfect because they are governed by instinct.  God wanted us to be His friends; animals, however, do not have the capacity to be friends with a holy God who dwells in unapproachable light.  He wants to be with us, to be near us, to be as close to us as our very breath.

Since the day of Pentecost – since the day that the Holy Spirit was given back to believers – we do have the capacity to fellowship and interact with the holy God who dwells in unapproachable light . . . because when we believe in the gospel, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us.  Born sinful, dead and empty, we become forgiven, alive and filled!

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. Colossians 2:13 (NET Bible)

He has made His home within our bodies.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the Bride of Christ.  We are His beloved.

Sin, suffering and evil exist because men refuse to trust God; they rely on themselves instead.  Men refuse to believe in the gospel; they would rather believe in lies and fantasies.  Sin, suffering and evil exist because, without the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us, we are all dysfunctional.

To explore this topic more and learn why humans are so inclined towards sin and evil, check out these 27-minute audio messages by Aaron Budjen: The Lamp of God and The Image of God.