DO I SURRENDER TO GOD?
As the next meeting began, Larry said,
“Instead of a class in psychology, sociology, or anthropology, this is a class
in how to walk with God. Is this what you want? Is this meeting your needs?”
A chorus of “Yes” from the
“Well, I’ve had a number of
requests for a rousing song service to start each meeting. How does that
“Well, let’s start with a really
And did they have a great one! So
good, in fact, that they were late getting the question-and-answer period
“Oh well,” said Larry, “We made
up for previous meetings without a song service. We’ve had our opening prayer.
What’s the first question of the evening. After a week of thinking, I’m sure
we’re brim full of them.”
“What do I have to give up in order
to be accepted by God?” inquired a student.
“Well,” Larry answered, “last
week we talked about surrendering to God. So this would be the next logical
question: What do we give up in order to make that full surrender?
“In giving ourselves to God, we
must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him. That’s easy
to remember, isn’t it? Everything that would separate us from God must be
“Satan will make us think that we
are sacrificing something, but it’s not true. All the devil does is lie to us.
—If there is anything you have to give up in order to be a Christian, it is
generally something that wasn’t good for you!”
“Well, then,” asked a student,
“is it a matter of will power? We give up this, and we do that, and we are
“Of ourselves, we cannot do anything
acceptable to God,” replied Larry. “We have to make the changes in
Christ, not apart from Him. Whatever we try to do, in the Christian life, by
ourselves will never succeed.
“There are those who profess to
serve God while they rely upon their own efforts to obey the ten commandments,
to form a right character, and secure salvation. Their hearts are not moved by
any deep sense of the love of Christ, but they seek to perform the duties of the
Christian life as that which God requires of them in order to gain heaven. Such
religion is worthless.
“But what we do in Christ is
entirely different. When Christ dwells in the heart, the soul is so filled with
His love, with the joy of communion with Him, that it cleaves to Him; and in the
contemplation of Him, self will be forgotten. For His sake, nothing is a
“You have become like a little
child holding onto your father’s hand. As you cross the dangerous highway
of life, the closer you press to your heavenly Father, the safer you are.
“Everything becomes different. Love
to Christ becomes the spring of action. Those who have this experience do not
ask for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their
“There’s a lot of talk about
making the Bible the standard of life. Well, in the life of the genuine
Christian, the Bible actually becomes his standard. He reads it because His
heavenly Father wrote it. He obeys it because he wants to obey the letters His
Father sent him. Yet that obedience can only be carried out in the ongoing
strength of Christ.
“But think not that this is a works
program. It is just heartfelt Christian living. The Bible says we are to
cease from our works [Hebrews 4:10], which are dead works [Hebrews
6:1; 9:14], and do good works [Hebrews 10:24], which are works done
in the enabling strength of Christ. ‘Without Me,’ He said, ‘ye can do
nothing’ [John 15:5].” That is a promise. Believe it and live by
“Sometimes it just seems that it is
too great a sacrifice to give everything I have to Christ, to dedicate myself to
Him,” commented a student.
“The devil tempts us that we will
lose a lot if we live for Christ,” Larry explained. “Or he tells us that we
had better wait till some later time to come to Christ. Satan knows that if
we do wait, he will so fill our lives with problems, that we’ll forget all
about coming to Christ.
“Yes, I understand how easy it is to
be tempted to think that it is too great a sacrifice to yield all to Christ.
Just ask yourself the question, ‘What has Christ given for me?’ The Son
of God gave all—life and love and suffering—for our redemption. And can it
be that we, the unworthy objects of so great love, will withhold our hearts from
“Ask yourself the question, ‘What
do I give up, when I give all?’ We give a sin-polluted heart—for Jesus to
purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet
so many think it hard to give up all!
“God never requires us to give up
anything that it is for our best interest to keep. In all that He does, God
has the well-being of His earthly children in view.”
“Well, getting right down to it, I
have a friend who wants to make this surrender of himself to God,” a
boy said. “But it seems there’s some kind of hurdle here that he
can’t surmount. What’s the answer?”
“This is the problem,” said Larry.
“A person desires to give himself to Christ, but he is weak in moral power, in
slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of his life of sin. His promises
and resolutions are like ropes of sand. He cannot control his thoughts, his
impulses, his affections. The knowledge of his broken promises and forfeited
pledges weakens his confidence in his own sincerity, and causes him to feel that
God cannot accept him,—but he need not despair.
“So often, this is the situation
with all of us. What we need to understand is the true force of the will.
This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or
of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of
choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise.
“You and I cannot change our heart,
we cannot of ourselves give to God its affections; but we can choose to
serve Him. We can give Him our will; He will then work in us to will and to
do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under
the control of the Spirit of Christ; our affections will be centered upon Him,
our thoughts will be in harmony with Him.”
“Wow! So choosing is the key,”
said the same student. “It is putting my will on Christ’s side.”
“That’s right,” agreed Larry.
“Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if any of
us stop here, we will fail of obtaining our goal. Many will be lost while hoping
and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the
will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.
“Through the right exercise of the
will, an entire change may be made in your life. You will have strength from
above to hold you steadfast and thus, through constant surrender to God, you
will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith.”
“And so I just choose to go to
Christ; that’s it. Just deciding I’ll go to Him?”
inquired a girl.
“Yes, with all your heart,
confessing your sins, having true repentance for how you have hurt Christ—just
go to Him!” said Larry. “He will receive you! As your conscience has
been quickened by the Holy Spirit, you have seen something of the evil of sin.
You have seen its power, its guilt, and its misery; and you look upon it with
abhorrence. It is peace that you need. You have confessed your sins and in heart
put them away. You have resolved to give yourself to God.
“Now go to Him and ask that He will
wash away your sins and give you a new heart.”
“What is the next step after
that?” asked a boy.
“After you’ve confessed your sins
and accepted Christ as your Saviour,” explained Larry,—“then believe
that He has accepted you! This is crucial. You must believe!
“Satan will tempt you to doubt. But
you are to believe just because He has promised in His Word. You believe because
He died for you on Calvary.
“The gift which God promises us, we
must believe we do receive, and it is ours. You are a sinner. You cannot atone
for your past sins; you cannot change your heart and make yourself holy. But God
promises to do all this for you through Christ. You believe that promise.
You confess your sins and give yourself to God. You will to serve Him. And just
as surely as you do this, God will fulfill His Word to you. If you believe
the promise,—God supplies the fact. Do not wait to feel that you
are made whole. But say, ‘I believe it; it is so, not because I feel it, but
because God promised.’
“Well,” concluded Larry, “I think
we’ve covered enough for tonight. How many are ready for next week?”
Every hand went up.
“Good, we’ll have a great
Larry paused and then said, “I think
we’ve probably covered most of what is involved in how to come to Christ and
accept Him as our Saviour.
“Next week, we’ll take a look at
what is involved in staying close by His side, day after day, so we don’t fall
away. So have your questions ready.
“Who would like to give the closing
“I would,” said a student.
As usual, after the meeting, everyone was
busy sharing their thoughts with friends about what they had been learning.
Somehow, telling some of it again helped fix it all the more firmly in their
The students recognized that, if they
solidly put into practice what Larry had been telling them, it could make the
rest of their lives happier and better.
OUR PRAYERS IMMEDIATELY ANSWERED?
The audience buzzed with excitement,
for these meetings were getting to be a special event. People arrived early, so
they could visit with friends outside; and then, when it was time for the
meeting to start, they went inside, expecting practical information they could
use in their personal lives.
Larry walked down the aisle, climbed
the steps onto the platform, and went to the podium.
“Well, the place is as full as last
“You know, when we talk about how to
live better, cleaner, purer lives, it really is exciting, isn’t it?”
A response of “Yes” from the
After a song service that encouraged
everyone, Larry said, “We need to start with prayer. You know, we have a lot
to be thankful for, don’t we?”
A lot of Amens.
After someone offered the prayer,
Larry asked, “What’s the first question of the evening?”
A girl near the front stood up.
mentioned last week that we could receive the answer, if we believe. Could you
explain a little more what it is that we can have? Maybe I should say it this
way: Do we receive everything we ask for? What things can we always pray for and
“The only thing we can receive immediately
in answer to prayer is the forgiveness of sin,” replied Larry. “For most
other things, we generally have to wait and keep praying. But doing so
strengthens our faith, so we will be more thankful and use it better when we
“Often our prayers are answered in a
way we did not expect, but which wonderfully fills the need we prayed about.
“And, of course, we will never
receive some things we ask for. God may know that having them would not be for
our best good. Once I met a man who wondered why God didn’t give him a new
car, even though he had prayed for it.
“But our kind Father will always
give us forgiveness of sin right away. And He will always give us strength, as
we keep trusting in Him, to resist temptation and overcome sin.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘What
things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye
shall have them’ [Mark 11:24]. But there is a condition to this
promise—that we pray according to the will of God. But what is the will of God
for our lives?
“It is the will of God to cleanse us
from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life. So we
may ask for these blessings, believe that we receive them, and thank God that we
have received them.
“Ask, believe, claim—ABC;
that’s the formula. Ask in faith for that which God has promised, believe
that He gives it, then claim the promise. Set to work believing you already have
it,—and you will have it when you need it. But you must ask according to
“I have experienced so much peace
in Christ in the past few weeks,” another
girl said. “But I’m afraid that I might lose Him. How can I be sure
I’ll stay close to Jesus in the future?”
“That’s a very important
question,” Larry said. You know, every day is so important. Our lives are very
short. And in our teens we are getting ready for adulthood. Soon we’ll be
grown and have to face the adult world. We’ll be getting married, we’ll
support our families, we’ll have children and begin raising them. And, as you
know, there are a lot of perils out there. But, in answer to your question,
“Now that you have given yourself to
Jesus, do not draw back, do not take yourself away from Him. But, day by day
say, ‘I am Christ’s; I have given myself to Him’; and ask Him to give you
His Spirit and keep you by His grace.
“Here is the key to success: As it
is by giving yourself to God and believing Him, that you first become His child,
so you are to live in Him.
“Unfortunately, here is where
thousands fail; they do not believe that Jesus pardons them personally,
individually. They do not take God at His Word. But it is the privilege of all
who comply with the conditions to know for themselves that pardon is freely
extended for every sin. Put away the suspicion that God’s promises are not
meant for you. They are for every repentant transgressor.
“When you that are doubting and
trembling look up; for Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Christ is
your mediator, interceding for you in heaven right now. Thank God for the gift
of His dear Son! The closer you hold on to Him, the safer you are.
“The promise in 2 Corinthians 5 is
for you: ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new’ [2 Corinthians 5:17].”
A boy near the back stood to his feet and
asked this question, “How can I be sure I’ve been converted? It seems
I should know the exact hour it happened.”
“That’s probably something a lot
of people wonder about,” said Larry. “A person may not be able to tell the
exact time or place he came to Christ. He may not be able to recall all the
events and decisions which led to conversion; but this does not prove him to be
“Genuine conversion is shown by a
definite change in character, habits, and activities. His likes and dislikes
will have changed. The contrast will be clear and decided between what he
has been and what he has become.
“The test is this: Who has the
heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our
warmest affections and our best energies? If we are Christ’s, our thoughts
are with Him. There is no evidence of genuine repentance unless it works
reformation. The lovely, and loving, character of Christ will be seen in His
followers. It was the delight of Jesus to do the will of God and help those
“Larry, I’ve heard you say that
we will be keeping God’s law,” said a boy.
“Now that sounds sensible. Of all the people on earth, we should expect
that Christians would not steal, commit adultery, or kill. But I’ve heard it
said that if I keep God’s law—I’ll be a legalist! How can I obey the ten
commandments safely? That sounds like an odd question, but I don’t know how
else to put it.”
“People get mixed up on this
sometimes,” replied Larry. “There are two errors against which God’s
children especially need to guard: The first is that of looking to their own
works, trusting to anything they can do by themselves, to bring themselves into
harmony with God. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with
selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, which
can make us holy.
“The opposite and no less dangerous
error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that
since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have
nothing to do with Christian living.
“The truth is that obedience is
the fruit of faith. Righteousness is defined by the standard of God’s holy
law, as expressed in the ten commandments [Exodus 20:3-20]. It is not
faith, but presumption to think that we do not need to keep God’s moral law. Morality
was not abolished at the cross! Surely, we dare not say that it was!
“I think we can all thank Alabama
Supreme Court Judge Roy S. Moore. He has called our attention to the importance
of defending the ten commandments. The atheists want to get rid of God’s moral
standard; God’s people should defend it.
“The solution is to be in Christ.
we are abiding in Him, He gives us power, moment by moment, to obey the moral
code. That is what the Bible means when it says He writes the law on our
hearts [Hebrews 8:10]. But we must constantly stay close to Him,—or
Satan will draw us away from God and the law will no longer be in our hearts.
When that happens, we have left Christ and are out in the world again. Obedience
is a matter of clinging to Christ and, in His strength, obeying His Written
Word. Without Him, we cannot do anything right. He is our righteousness.
We are never our own righteousness.”
“I think I see what you mean,”
the same student said.
“Christ changes the heart. He abides
in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith
and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He
will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure
“I have a question,” asked a girl.
“Does that mean we’ll eventually reach a point where we don’t need to stay
as close to Christ?”
“Good question,” replied Larry.
“That will never happen. The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you
will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer. This is evidence
that Satan’s delusions are losing their power. No deep-seated love for Jesus
can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. The soul that
is transformed by the grace of Christ will admire His character.
“A view of our sinfulness drives us
to Him who can pardon; and then the soul, realizing its helplessness, reaches
out after Christ. To such a one, Jesus provides wonderful help, wonderful
answers. The more our sense of need drives us to Him and to the Word of God, the
more exalted views we shall have of His character and the more fully we shall
reflect His image. So, the closer we come to Him, the less we will see
anything in ourselves, apart from Him, that is good.
“Well, why don’t we bring this meeting
to a close at this point? It’s time for our closing prayer.”
When it was finished, Larry raised his
hand as he said, “How many appreciate these meetings?”
Hands went up everywhere.
“Have your questions ready; and,
when song service is over next week, we’ll start in.”
ON THE NEW BIRTH
The following week, when it was time
for the first question, a student stood up. “Larry, what you’ve been talking
about, the conversion experience, is about the new birth.”
“That’s right,” replied Larry.
“Can you describe this new
birth to us in clearer terms?”
“What the Bible speaks of as the new
birth is the change of heart by which we become children of God,” said
Larry. “Before that we were
children of the evil one, caught in his net. But then Christ sets us free as we
accept Him as our Saviour.
“Elsewhere in the Bible, this
experience is compared to the germination of the good seed sown by the
husbandman. It is God who brings the bud to bloom and the flower to fruit. It is
by His power that the seed develops. The sprouting of seeds is a miracle. The
new birth is also a miracle. Our God is a God of miracles.”
“But once the seed sprouts, from
then on it grows on its own, doesn’t it?”
asked a puzzled girl.
“The plant only grows,” explained
Larry, “because it receives nourishment from the soil, air, and sun. The same
with us. We can only grow because Jesus enables us to do so. He is our soil,
our air, and our sun!
“As the flower turns to the sun,
that the bright beams may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry, so we
should turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that heaven’s light may shine upon
us, that our character may be developed into the likeness of Christ.”
“I think I’m beginning to see how
I come to Christ and, at the first, give Him my heart,” said
a student. “But don’t I also use some other methods to grow in
Christian experience after that?”
“ ‘How am I to abide in Christ?’
is the question,” said Larry. The answer is that you abide in Him in the
same way you first received Him. The Bible says it this way: ‘As ye have
therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him’ [Colossians
“By faith you first became
Christ’s; that’s the new birth. By faith you are to grow up in Him;
that’s all the rest of your Christian life. You do this by giving and taking.
You are to give all you have: your heart, your will, your service. You give
yourself to Him, by His grace, to obey all His requirements. And you must take
all: Christ and the blessings He brings you, to abide in your heart. In this
way, He is your strength, your righteousness, and your everlasting helper
to give you power to obey.”
“This is really terrific!” said a
girl. “I’m getting so much out of this. Now, if you would, tell me how
I make sure I’ll start each day right—with Jesus.”
“Consecrate yourself to God in
the morning,” Larry said. Make this your very first work. Let your
prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet.
Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me and let all my work be wrought in
“This is a daily matter. Each
morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to
Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus
day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life
will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”
“But isn’t there something here I
need to be worried about,” a student asked.
“This sounds like walking on the edge of a cliff. It just seems too good to be
“There is something to fear: Fear
that you will leave Christ,” replied Larry. “Be concerned that you will
drift away, drawn by one of the devil’s attractions.
“But, having said that, know for a
fact that, if you will cling to Him constantly, Jesus will guard you like a
fortress. He intends that no outside power be in you, other than His Holy
“Actually, a life in Christ is a
life of restfulness. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an
abiding, peaceful trust. When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from
Christ, the source of strength and life. For this reason, it is Satan’s
constant effort to keep your attention diverted from the Saviour. He wants to
prevent your union and communion with Christ.”
“What do you mean by ‘communion
with Christ’?” asked another student.
“Well, that’s a big word, and the
big words can get us confused at times,” apologized Larry. “By that, I mean
talking to Him! We are not only to be united with Him by faith; we are to
talk to Him as often as we have opportunity all through the day.”
“ ‘Talk with Jesus’?
asked a girl. “How do you do that? I’m busy all day long, and much of
the time I’m around other people.”
“There is an interesting sentence in
the Apostle Paul’s writings. He said to ‘Pray without ceasing’ [1
Thessalonians 5:17]. Now, if we can figure out what he meant by that, it
would probably improve our own Christian experience. We know that Paul had an
extremely close walk with God.
“When you first get up in the
morning, pray and read God’s Word. This should not be a form, but a genuine
experience. Paul said ‘I die daily’ [1 Corinthians 15:31], so he had
such a genuine experience—a renewed conversion—every morning.
“Then, as you go through the day,
you talk to Jesus. —You really do talk to Him! If you are alone, you can
talk out loud. If you are around others, you talk to Him silently. Another
way to say this is that you are praying silently, and we’ve all done that. So
it shouldn’t be anything strange or new.”
“What do you talk to Him about?”
asked a girl quizzically.
“Well,” chuckled Larry, “you
talk to Him about what you are doing, what you are going to do. Specifically,
though, you thank Him; you ask for guidance to know what to do next, wisdom to
do it right, and protection as you do it. You pray for loved ones and those you
are trying to help, those you will meet, those you have just met. You pray for
people, you pray for yourself. You pray for guidance, you pray for protection.
There is so much to talk to Him about. And there is something else: You thank
Him, constantly thank Him for the blessings. The more you praise Him, the more
you will have to praise Him for. Try it; it works.
“Jesus is real; and, when you are
with someone real, you talk to him!”
“Well, I’d be afraid I might
forget partway through the day! What if I don’t talk to Him constantly?”
asked a boy.
“Don’t worry about it. Just keep
aiming for it. Keep talking to Him. If you find you haven’t for a little
while, no problem; just start in again. Thank Him, ask Him for help in what
you are trying to do. If you are doing anything which in the slightest degree
could be dangerous, ask Him for protection. Make Jesus your best friend! For He
“You said that we are not only to
have continual communion with Him, but also continual union,” a
boy said. “By ‘communion’ you mean continually talking to Him. What
you do mean by ‘union’?”
“This concept of union with Christ
and being in Christ is found many times in the New Testament,” Larry
explained. “We mentioned earlier how Christ said that He is the Vine and we
are the branches [John 15:1-5]. We are to be so closely connected to
Him that we, as the branches, continually draw nourishment from Christ, the
parent stock. Paul says we are ‘members of His body, of His flesh, and of His
bones’ [Ephesians 5:30]. Jesus said we must drink His blood and eat His
flesh [John 6:53-56].
“All these symbols describe this
extremely close relationship. To put it another way: Each of us is to be His
little child, holding His hand all through the day, trusting Him to care for us
and guide us.
“The result of this continual union,
or connection, is that we become like Him! Can you imagine, becoming like
Christ! Yet all the while we ourselves are not aware of the change; for we are
just His humble, obedient children. It was predicted that Christ would save His
people from their sins [Matthew 1:21], not in their sins. In
the process of taking you out of your sins, Christ makes you more like Himself.
In other words, He makes you a clean, honest, pure person. You become Christlike.
“Remember how, in His last prayer
with His disciples before leaving for Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for all of us [John
17], and He asked that we might be one with Him—even as He is one with the
Father. What a union is this! Thus, loving Him and abiding in Him, we shall
‘grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” [Ephesians
“Can Satan catch me if I don’t
want him to?” asked a girl. “By this
I mean, if I want to stay close to Jesus (and determine to) and read the Bible
and keep praying. Is there some way Satan can catch me anyway?”
“God cares for His own! When Christ
took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that
can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will
constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to
separate ourselves from Christ. But if we keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, He
will preserve us. Looking constantly unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can
pluck us out of His hand. All that Christ was to the disciples, He desires to be
to His children today.
“Our danger is being attracted by
the devil’s trinkets and toys. All that Satan offers is a deception, yet it
appears so attractive. In the strength of Jesus, turn away and keep your hand in
“How many are thankful that we have such
a wonderful Saviour?” asked Larry, raising his hand.
Hands went up all across the
GO TO CHAPTER 37