This is one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of surrender. It is well worth reading!—Dan
At no period in the last century of the history of God's people has there been more emphasis placed upon the Christian life and walk than at the present. For long years the hearts of God's true children have longed for the fullest, richest, closest spiritual life attainable in Christ Jesus. That there was such a deeper, higher, broader life in Christ than the lives of many of His children were exemplifying, was admitted by all. The Word of God promised it; the lives of the early disciples were resplendent with its glory; the hearts of God's devout children clung to it with pathetic persistence. That self-same tenaciousness of faith in the possibility of such a fullness of Christian experience was the Spirit-born and Spirit-fed proof of its existence. Men's hearts would not yield their faith in its existence because the Spirit who dwelt within them would not suffer such faith to perish. Seeing then that he could not banish the vision of the glory-crowned peak, the arch-adversary sought to becloud the pathway to it. Knowing that they would not surrender their faith in the distant haven he essayed to confuse, by a maze of misleading lines, the chart that guided weary seekers to it. As for a thousand years he had blinded the way to the heart-resting peace with God, so now he diligently set himself to darken the path to the heart-keeping peace of God. Error and false teaching of divers and manifold forms swarmed to the becloudment. Perfectionism; sanctification of the flesh; eradication of inbred sin from that in which a holy God declares there "dwelleth no good thing"; holiness teaching with much of truth, yet such serious error in the ignoring and wresting of God's word as has led to pitiable disappointment, and spiritual disaster;--all these have hung about the true pathway to fullness of life in Christ, as the mist and mirage beset the toiling traveler eager to reach his journey's end.
All the while the Spirit knew this pathway. All through these weary years of gloom and error this truth was flooded with the light of an errorless simplicity in the mind of the Spirit: all this time it was already revealed in His Word. While men wandered in the labyrinth of their own dogmas, while they encrusted the truth with the cheap gloss of their own human opinions, He could not make plain to them what was so clear to Him. But as soon as they began to give to His naked Word that place of supreme authority they had been all unconsciously awarding to creeds, and to man-made comments upon that Word, the true light began to burst forth. So it is through the earnest, searching, trustful study of that Word to-day that, out from the error, ignorance, and false teaching of the century is emerging, in all its glory and preciousness, the truth which lets us into the secret of a full and triumphant life in Christ Jesus.
"The body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who comes at conversion to abide forever. To walk in the Spirit, instead of walking in the flesh as He has hitherto done, is the whole secret of the Believer’s life of power, privilege and peace. To thus walk in the Spirit the first essential is the absolute yielding to God of the life which the believer has hitherto to Himself controlled and directed."
These great truths are clearly set forth in God's Word, and nowhere more clearly than in the writings of the great apostle. As we walk in the Spirit we shall not sin (Gal. 5: 16) : as we walk in the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8: 13) : as we walk in the Spirit His law makes us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8: 2) : as we walk in the Spirit we show ourselves to be true Sons of God (Rom. 8: 14) : as we walk in the Spirit we are freed from the bondage of the law (Gal. 5: 18) : as we walk in the Spirit we are made like unto Jesus Christ (II Cor. 3: 18) ; and the image of His glorious life is reproduced in all its features of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, etc.(Gal. 5: 22.) In short he who has learned to walk in the Spirit walks in God, instead of in Self; for him to live is CHRIST: What higher summit than this is there in Christian experience?
But how can that Spirit lead, purify, transform, fill, and use a life unless it is yielded to Him? What can the potter do with the unyielded clay? How can God fashion the unyielded life? If every idol He shatters is secretly mourned: if every chastening stroke is bitterly denounced: if every higher purpose is resisted by a hostile will, how can He mold, and transform, and bless? Surely the ship which God is not piloting is destined to disastrous wreck: surely the harp which God does not attune will ever be a jangle of discordant notes to His listening ear. If we would have them restored to their perfection, we yield our disordered time-piece to the watchmaker: our costly gem with its broken setting to the jeweler: our wounded, bleeding limb to the hand of the surgeon. Can we do less toward God with the priceless treasure of life if we would have it meet our highest aspiration? Wherefore the Word of God calls upon us again and again to yield, yield, YIELD ourselves to God (Rom. 6: 13, 16, 19) if we would have His Spirit hold full sway in our lives. He will not compel such surrender. He wants consecration, not coercion. But His fullest purpose of grace, blessing, and ministry is simply baffled in the life which will not yield to Him. Nothing is more striking in Christ's earthly life than this attitude of absolute submission to the Father. "Lo, I come to do Thy will" was the complete expression of His early life and ministry. He came, as He says, not to do His own will: not to speak His own words: not to seek His own glory: not to teach His own doctrines. In all these He repeatedly emphasized His entire submission to the Father, His entire effacement of self in the conduct and shaping of His own earthly career. Now the servant is not greater than his Lord: as the Father sent Him, even so has He sent us into the world. He, as the Son of God, did this for an ensample to us who are sons. Wherefore if He, the sinless, spotless Son of God, needed to yield His earthly life wholly to the Father, how much more do we? Almost every page of God's Word calls us to follow in his footsteps. But where is there one which exempts us? Every consideration of obedience, of fullness of blessing, of closeness of walk with God, of glorification of His name, and of successful service and fruit-bearing for Him, calls us to follow Christ's example and yield ourselves unreservedly to God, to do His will and not our own. Many who are saved are not servants. They rejoice in salvation, but shirk from discipleship. They covet the crown, but shun the yoke. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for or us" (Rom. 5: 8). "He died, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them" (II. Cor. 5: 15). They see in this first text Christ's purpose to save sinners, but they do not see in this second Christ's purpose in saving. They do not see that He died not only to save the life, but to use the life after it is saved. He died not only to bring men into the Kingdom, but to make them servants of the King. He wants not only saved sinners, but surrendered saints.
Perhaps the most astonishing fact of the religious life of today is the number of men and women, who, thus saved by Christ, are yet unwilling to yield to Christ, and to live no longer unto themselves, but "unto Him." Let this test be applied to the average gathering of Christian men and women, and mark the result. Marvelous indeed is it to see that the ratio of God's children who joyfully and whole-heartedly respond to it is often as small as that of the unsaved who to the appeal of the gospel of salvation. What distrust in the Christ of Love! What a revelation of the kingship of Self in our lives! What a cheapening of His sacrifice for us that the vision of it instead of impelling us to cast ourselves, our all, at His feet, barely stirs us to reluctant and stinted gifts from our abundance! Verily, no truth of God's Word has suffered more at the hands of His children than this of His call to the yielding of the life: none has oftener been wounded in the house of its friends. It has suffered in the frequent woeful failure of God's messengers to bring it home tenderly to the lives of all His children; in the sad and repeated failure to respond when it is brought home; and in the everyday handling of the truth of consecration with a flippancy which has made it only a high-sounding phrase and the consecration meeting often a shallow mockery. Yet it stands as the supreme act in the believer's life: the threshold of blessing and successful service.
For the first great step of the walk in the Spirit, is that yielding of the life which puts us under the control of that Spirit. Without this we may, and do have times of blessing, in so far as we trust and obey God in the acts of our daily life, and thus carry cut the principle of obedience involved in surrender. But it is only through this that our whole life can be brought into that perfect alignment with God's will for or us which makes not only isolated acts, but, the whole course of our life, always well pleasing unto Him, and a constant joy to ourselves. Myriads of God's children are thus doing acts which please the Father, and finding joy and gladness therein, walk happily with Him while His plans are well pleasing to them. But when it comes to walking with Him in the dark, and bearing and doing things which their own wills would have otherwise, they break down at the point of greatest weakness, a point of some secret cherished reservation to the whole will of God. It is just here that a definite act of surrender to God in blank is of such value. For it is a yielding of the life to do and suffer all His will, in all things and at all times, because we have, once for all, settled that it is the best thing for us. Wondrously steady under chastening and affliction does it make our life, to have it thus placed wholly and confidingly in His loving grasp. Then, when the hour comes to walk with God in the twilight of a simple, naked faith, while He works in ways that seem hard and strange, we follow Him as trustfully in the night of faith as in the full noontide of sight. We look back and remember the transaction by which we handed all things over to Him; we recall His faithfulness and power to guard all that is committed to Him; we remind ourselves of His deathless love for His children; and we quietly leave our life where we once, and forever, placed it, confident that the hands that bled to save it, are the safest hands to keep it.
Rom. 6:13 "Yield yourselves unto God." Romans 6: 13
Rom. 12:1 "Present your bodies...unto God." Romans 12: 1
2 Cor. 8:5 "They first gave their own selves unto the Lord." 2 Corinthians 8: 5
1 Pet. 4:2 "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." I Peter 4: 2
What is the Surrendered Life? Or, rather, what is the act of surrender which opens the portals of the life of surrender, of consecration to God? The Scriptures quoted at the head of this article clearly and explicitly answer this query. Surrender, or consecration, is the voluntary offering of ourselves unto God to do His will instead of our own. Mark the terms, for each is significant, and all are simply gathered from the body of the texts quoted. A voluntary offering; ("yield;" "present;" "gave") of ourselves ("yourselves;" "your bodies;" "their own selves") unto God; ("unto God;" "unto the Lord") "to do His will, instead of our own." I Peter 4: 2. It is thus:
The word consecrate means "to fill the hand." Just as the Jewish worshipper filled his hand with the best, richest, and choicest of his own, and brought it as an offering to the Lord, so is the redeemed child of God to offer himself to God as the highest expression of grateful worship he can possibly make to the Lord who has redeemed him. In the bygone days, when men were sold as chattels, a trembling slave stood upon the auction block awaiting the result of the last bid which was to separate him from wife, children, and all that was dear to him in his life of bondage on the old plantation. Higher and higher rose the bidding until at last it ceased, and the hammer of the auctioneer fell. A gentleman stepped up to the fettered slave and quickly said: "My man, I have bought you." "Yes, Massa," was the subdued response. "I have bought you at a great price." The bondman nodded a tearful assent. "But more than this," continued the purchaser, "I have bought you to set you free," and striking off his bonds he said, "Go. You are a free man." Thereupon, falling at the feet of his deliverer the overjoyed freedman cried out, "Oh, Massa! I am your slave forever!" Even so, redeemed one, is our Christ, who bought us with His own precious blood, waiting for us to fall at His feet and offer Him the life which He has purchased and set free. Thus does Paul, once the bond-slave of sin, now rejoice to call himself "the (voluntary) bond-slave of Jesus Christ." Very beautifully is the same truth set forth in our Lord's offering of Himself to do the will of the Father. The passage (Heb. 10: 5) in which He speaks of offering His body to the Father, even unto its cruel piercing on the cross, is quoted, from Ps. 40: 6. There the striking phrase for "a body didst thou prepare me," is "mine ear hast thou opened (or bored)." When a slave who had become free wished to remain a voluntary bondman in the house of the master he had come to love, he stood by the door-post while the master pierced his ear with an awl. Ever after the pierced ear marked him as one who, though entitled to freedom, had joyfully yielded himself to the loved master as a willing slave for life. The Holy Spirit uses this figure as a vivid picture of the absolute and loving submission to the will of Father of Him who said of Himself "I am come down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me," and "I am among you as he that serveth." Even thus would God have us, who are all "Sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus," offer ourselves in glad surrender to the Father.
Nor need any humble soul who has so offered himself to God ever doubt that he belongs to God. For all His children belong to Him before they offer themselves to Him. Consecration does not confer ownership, it presumes it. It is not in order to be His, but because we are His, that we yield up our lives. It is purchase that gives title; delivery simply gives possession. The question is not, "Do I belong to God?" but "Have I yielded to God that which already belongs to Him?" Writing once to a friend concerning this point, as to whether one surrendering to God could without doubt say, "I am thine," there came back this luminous statement: "You are God's already by purchase; now deliver the goods. How true, how simple. "Ye are Not your own." Why? Because "ye are bought." The text shows us clearly that the title to our lives is with God; the possession is with us. The offering to God is thus simply giving to God that which already belongs to Him by right of purchase. Wherefore we need never have any fear of non-acceptance; never any doubt that we are His. That was settled when He purchased us; yea "before the foundation of the world" He chose us in Christ Jesus. The question is, have we yielded possession, have we delivered the goods? You go to a jeweler and buy a costly diamond, paying him for it, and leaving it in his possession to be called for later. The next day when you call he refuses to deliver it. By law you are its rightful owner, but he unjustly keeps you out of possession. Even so God in His love rifled heaven of its rarest treasure to purchase us, yet we may refuse to yield Him the life so ransomed. And this brings us to the next thought, that surrender is:
There is a threshold which God will not cross: human responsibility. He will press to its utmost verge to plead, woo, yea, even weep at the door of the heart that is refusing Him full possession; but He will never force an entrance. The most solemn thought about the offering of the life is that when the Holy Spirit has done His work of convincing us of God's call to it, He leaves it with us to yield or not to yield. Even while the very Christ of love stands and pleads for our lives, saying, "How often would I," it may be said of us, "but ye would not." Into that marred visage we may look and say "Yea, Lord, I know that Thou hast bought me at an awful cost; I know I am Thine by the highest and holiest claim that can be urged upon me, but I am busily engrossed in my own worldly plans, pleasures, and ambitions, and I do not care to yield my life to Thee!"
In I Samuel 10: :27, we read concerning king Saul, that "the children of Belial despised him and brought him no presents. But he held his peace." So our King left His throne in the heavens, took upon Himself the form of a servant, and died a death of agony and shame that we might be exalted to share His eternal glory. Yet we may in effect despise Him, and refuse to bring Him that gift of all gifts for which His heart is yearning--the gift of ourselves. Withal He will not coerce us; He does not clamor against us. He simply holds His peace. And why? Because love expects a voluntary return from the dearest object of its suffering and sacrifice, and when none is given, love in grieved and wounded silence holds its peace. Look not, unyielding one, for the Christ to cry out against you; to upbraid and reproach you; to vehemently command you to this step. The very delicacy of love forbids it. What wife who truly loves, after that she has toiled, and suffered, and sacrificed, and poured out her very heart's blood for him whom she loves, would not shrink from the thought of extorting a response to her devotion by commands, censure, hints and reproaches? The quick instinct of love looks for a spontaneous and voluntary response, and will grieve in silence rather than attempt to force it. What fragrance is to the rose, color to the sunset sky, spotlessness to the snow, voluntariness is to the surrender of the life. The very fragrance and sweet savor of Christ's sacrifice is that it was the free-will offering of love. He looks for the same from us. This is why the Word of God is not filled with command to yield the life. This is why, when Christ speaks, He cries, "I beseech you, brethren." It is love that is speaking. And every page that is crimsoned with His blood; every verse that tells of His sufferings; every line that chronicles His sacrifice, is love speaking to us. If these waken in us no response, then our King, is silent. For love would rather hold its peace than extort the response which the vision alone of its suffering and sacrifice should quickly prompt. Furthermore, surrender is:
It is ourselves that God wants. No gift of money, time, service or talents will meet the yearning of His heart for ourselves. For God is love, and love would above all things have the heart. Thus surrender is a transaction between Redeemer and redeemed, and whatsoever falls short of the sacred gift of a yielded heart falls short of all. There is that in the heart of the poorest and most degraded which shrinks from money when it needs love. How much more so with the Lover of our souls. Silver and gold, time and talents, ministry and service, are acceptable to God as an accompaniment of surrender, but never as an evasion of it. There are those who will give wealth, time and effort, but who in their secret hearts have never yet yielded themselves to God. When in the silence and secrecy of their own communion with God, this issue rises before them they tremble and grow pale, and shrink back from this definite transaction with God. And yet if God is to be all to us, we must yield all to Him. Never can that confidential relationship between the Redeemer and His redeemed, which is the highest blessedness of the believer's life, be established until we give ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us. Without this yielding of ourselves to Him we have not, in the profound sense of the word, received Him as Lord, even though we know Him as Savior. Have we ever pondered this distinction? Paul calls Him "Jesus Christ our LORD." "Jesus" we know. "They shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." "Jesus; Savior." How much the word means! "He has saved us from the guilt of sin; He is saving us from the power of sin; He will save us from the presence of sin." We know the peace of remitted sin; we know the victory over defeated sin; we shall someday know the glory of vanished sin. As Savior we know whom we believe, and know that He is able to save unto the uttermost all them that draw near to God through Him. As Savior He never fails in time of need, has never lost a battle for the weakest soul who puts his trust in Him. However fierce the temptation to those who trust Him, He will always "with the temptation make a way of escape." Verily we rejoice in Him first of all as Jesus! So also do we know Him as Christ the Anointed One. For He has anointed us with His own Holy Spirit. And the anointing which we have received of Him abideth, and we need not that any man teach us. That Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, dwells within us. He comforts; He guides; He gives love, joy and peace; He purifies; He reveals the things of Christ; He makes us like Christ; He will unveil in us the very glory of Christ. But this Son of God whom we confess as our Savior, and joy in as our Anointer, do we also receive as our Lord (for LORD means Master), owner and proprietor of ourselves absolutely and forever, by right of redemption?
Beloved, is Jesus Christ Our LORD, in the fullest sweep of the term? Have we gladly yielded to Him the mastership of ourselves, our lives, our all? Or, have we accepted the privileges of redemption, in salvation and anointing, without acknowledging the claim of redemption, namely, mastership and lordship? Is He master of ourselves, our gold and silver, our affections, thoughts, time, talents? How can any one in this respect call Jesus Lord, save by the Spirit? Beloved, does that Spirit which witnesses to you of remission of sins, and sealing of the Spirit, also bear witness with exultant joy to the acknowledged ownership, the absolute, undisputed mastership of Jesus Christ as Lord of your life? "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" When Mary said "They have taken away my Lord"; when Thomas at the vision of His wounds cried out "My Lord!"; when in the gray dawn by the sea the disciples whispered "It is the Lord"; that word "Lord" was fraught with a significance which does not seem to be wrought into the fabric of our lives as it was in theirs. He was "the Master" to them by their own glad, grateful, voluntary choice. They crowned Him Lord of all, not merely in a flight of song, or a burst of sentiment, or in a moment of transient emotion. The master passion of their lives was to be wholly for Him who had given up all for them. They were in blood earnest in their dedication to Him. The scene in Acts 2: 44, 45, enigma as it is to an undedicated life, glows with the splendor of the very presence of Him who was so literally crowned as Lord of all, that in that remarkable multitude "neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own"! Beloved, is Jesus Christ, not only your Savior, your Christ, but also your LORD?
Not to a calling, a field, an occupation, or a principle, but to God. We do well to note this. For with many the thought of the yielded life is always linked with the mission field, the Gospel ministry, or some other special form of service. Immediately that the claim of Christ upon the life is pressed home there comes up the test, "Can I preach the Gospel, or can I go to China, or India, or Africa?" Now God does not call us to surrender to a field or a calling, but to yield ourselves in blank to Him. The real issue, is not will I go to Africa, but do I trust God enough to place my life in His hands without regard to the particular place or form of service in which He may desire it. Paul says of the Macedonians that "They first gave their own selves unto the Lord, and then unto us by the will of God." (2: Cor. 8: 5.) That is, having settled in their own minds that they could "trust the Man who had died for them" and that His will was the best thing in the universe for them, they first gave themselves without reserve to Him. Thus yielding to God, the Holy Ghost, filling them with Himself, filled them with a glad and willing obedience to the particular acts of service or sacrifice which God, in His will, had for them. "First, . . . unto God; then unto us by the will of God." This is the divine order. The real battle is fought over this. "First, . . . unto GOD." The real victory is to trust His will without regard to what His will may be or where His will may lead; to yield ourselves to God, rather than to struggle to go to the foreign mission field against an unyielding will. When the struggle to give ourselves wholly unto God is settled then the battle is won. For the Holy Spirit fills the wholly yielded life with such a glad spirit of obedience as to make the after-doing of God's special will for us the joy and delight of our life. The true missionary, once yielded to God, goes to his field not with doubt and reluctance, but with unspeakable gladness, born of a free-will service to the God whose he is and whom he serves. Wherefore when such tests as above enter into the arena of our struggle to yield to God, let us meet them by saying, "Lord, I give myself wholly to Thee, to do all Thy will, and if this be Thine after-will for me, Thou wilt give me grace to do it with joy when that time comes." The grace to do some special act of God's will comes abundantly to him who has yielded himself to do all of that will. And this brings us easily and naturally to the last thought in the definition of surrender, that it is:
This is the supreme aim and purpose of the yielded life. The will of the flesh and the will of God are in discord. Fallen man is in rebellion against the perfect will of God. The redemption of Jesus Christ would bring him back into perfect accord with that will, and looks forward to the day when that will shall be done as perfectly in a redeemed earth as now in heaven. Wherefore to do the will of God, and no longer do the will of the flesh, is the only attitude the child of God, who is to find joy in that will through all eternity, can possibly take in the fleeting years of his pilgrimage on earth. Surrender is simply the voluntary act which places him now in that attitude. Such surrender is not an act of merit or self-righteousness by which the yielded life wins or deserves more from God than the unyielded one. But that surrender is predicated upon the manifested fact that the God of all grace, eager to carry out His perfect will in the life of His every child, can do so only as that life is yielded to Him, His all-wise dealings in it, and His glorious purposes for it.
In a little chapel in a European village hangs a picture of the Christ. The artist who painted it was a child of God redeemed by the blood of Christ from a life of sin and folly. So filled with love for his dying Savior was his rejoicing soul that when he came to paint, that soul was flooded with tenderest love, and into every lineament, pose and expression of the Divine Man he painted love, love, LOVE as few had done before, or have done since. Underneath the picture of the Sufferer he had written the lines:
"All this I did for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?"
One summer day there strolled into the little church a young nobleman. Loitering along the aisle his attention was arrested by the painting into which the Spirit of God had breathed His own love through the fashioning hands of the artist. As he saw the love depicted in every lineament of that divine face; as he saw the pierced hands, and bleeding brow, the wounded side; as he slowly scanned the couplet
"All this I did for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?"
a new revelation of the claim of Jesus Christ upon every life upon which His grace had been outpoured flashed upon him. Hour after hour passed as he sat intently gazing upon the face of the Suffering One. As the day waxed apace, and the lingering rays of sunlight shot aslant aisle and pew, they fell upon the bowed form of Zinzendorf, weeping and sobbing out his devotion to the Christ whose love had not only saved his soul, but conquered his heart. Out from that little church he went forth to do a mighty life work, which has circled the earth with the missions of that Moravian people, who seem to have realized and incarnated the love of Christ for a lost world, as no other denomination of God's Church militant has yet done.
Believer, have you had this vision of the suffering Christ, not only as Savior, but as the wooer and the winner of your own heart's best love? Has His passion for you kindled in your heart a responsive, burning, love for Him? Has His love unto death not only brought you glad salvation, but stirred you to willing surrender? Accepting His redemption do you also joyously acknowledge His ownership? Is He a crowned King in your life, as well as a Lamb bleeding for your life? Do you recognize the claims of His love, as well as the privilege of it? Or, exulting in its sacrifice are you yet mute to its appeals?
You have been some time in a great revival meeting when every influence seemed to be beseeching men to be saved. The preacher has poured forth his message with eager, burning earnestness direct to the hearts of the multitude before him. The prayers that have gone up have been but sobbing pleadings that lost men might yield to God. The songs 'that have floated out over the vast congregation have stirred and thrilled your inmost soul with the intensity of their entreaty. And then, as under it all, men and women sat unyielding, unmoved, undeciding, you have cried out in amazement that souls could resist unto the end such mighty influences as were at work before your eyes, and were so profoundly felt in your own soul. But child of God, "art thou not inexcusable, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself?" Have the men and women who sit stolid and apparently unmoved known the mercies of God as you know them? Have they been snatched from a horrible, impending doom by a dying Savior as you have? Is heaven, with all its bliss and glory, open before them, and assured to them as it is to you? Have their souls, reddened with sin, been washed white like snow as yours has? Have they felt the touch of Christ's healing hand, heard the tender tones of His divine forgiveness, exulted in the unspeakable peace of His salvation, had the tear-blinded vision of His agony and deathless love that you have? Ah, beloved, if the refusal of a sinner to give up his sins under the pleadings of the Spirit is a solemn responsibility, is not the refusal of a believer to give up his life, after he has experienced all the mercies of God, also a sad and solemn thing to the heart of that God? If the sinner is culpable in steadfastly resisting the Christ who wants to save him, are not we much more so in resisting the Christ who has saved us, and now wants to use us for His glory and the salvation of others? And how He pleads for the yielded lives of His children! Hear Him as through His servant Paul He voices His tender entreaty to us: "I BESEECH YOU therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." What a scene is here! Not man, not Paul: but Jesus Christ, through man, beseeching His children for the lives He so much needs for His service. Picture Him entering this room tonight. As we sit with hushed, expectant hearts the door opens and He enters! Down the aisle comes that form, once a familiar sight by the shores of Galilee, in the streets of Jerusalem, and in the thronging feasts of the people. Passing quietly to the teacher's place He turns, and we look upon the face of Jesus! There is the same smile that gladdened the hearts of His own two thousand years ago; the same familiar voice that thrilled their inmost being as it spoke the words of life and peace; the same gaze that bespeaks Him at once the man of sorrows and of tender, compassionate, quenchless love. How still our hearts grow! How filled the room seems with His Presence! How breathless we sit: once self-absorbed, now Christ-absorbed! And now, as the instinct of prayer steals into our remorseful hearts, we would beseech His forgiveness for our coldness which now seems to us an awful shame. We would beseech His forbearance with our selfishness which now fills us with astonishment and grief unutterable. We would beseech His forgetfulness of our lack of communion, which now in His presence seems almost unforgivable. We would beseech His compassionate grace for our failure to tell the heathen world of His love, for now it seems red-handed crime. But as our heart is flooded with the sense of our unworth, worldliness, and faithlessness, and our lips begin to move and our knees to bend in petition, behold a marvel! Do our eyes deceive us ? He the King, the Lord, the Creator begins to beseech us the subjects, the servants, the created! Stretching forth His scarred hands, touching His blood-stained brow, pointing to His pierced side--all tokens of the mercies of God, He speaks. "Children of God, I beseech you! By the need of dying men: by the shortness of the time: by the follies of the world: by the wasted years of your life: by the secret longings of your own heart: by My blood shed for you: by My death instead of yours: by My resurrection, which is life for you: by My glory prepared for you; and by My Kingship to be shared by you--I beseech you by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.
"Alas, indeed, for those who will not accept Him as Savior. But alas, too, for those who, crimson with the blood of His redemption, from the sin-smiting hand of God by His quivering body, thrilling with exultant life from His glorious resurrection, still will not Yield to Him as Lord of their lives. How can our eyes be blind to the vision of His love, our ears be deaf to the mute pathos of its appeal, our hearts fail to fill, and throb, and well-nigh burst with longing to requite in some measure by surrender, sacrifice, and suffering even unto death, His matchless love for us? Astounding to ourselves will be the spectacle of our own unyielded lives when in the great day of reward we stand in the presence of the Prince of Sufferers! The very glory that enrobes us, as it attests His grace, will be the mightiest witness against our failure of responsiveness to it. Being risen with Him, being joined with Him in fellowship of glory and kingship, we shall also be associated with Him in fellowship of judgment. With Him we shall judge ourselves! Gazing back with His vision upon our unyielded life we shall see it then as He sees it, and join in His solemn judgment upon its wasted opportunities. Tremendous thought! "But if we judged ourselves we would not be judged." Wherefore, let us judge now this question of the unyielded life as in the light of eternity we shall then judge it. And so shall we here see its ingratitude, its awful waste, its utter failure to carry out His perfect purpose. And so seeing, and so touched by the vision of His matchless love we shall, before "the night cometh," lay it at the feet of "Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and Priests unto God and His Father."
When the Master sent His disciples to bring the colt upon which He would make His entry into Jerusalem, the owners of the colt said, "Why loose ye the colt?" And they said, "The Lord hath need of him." The Lord of heaven and earth, He who could say, "The cattle on a thousand hills are mine," in infinite grace and humility of spirit deigned to say that He who had created all things by the word of His power needed this humblest beast of burden. Even so does He need the life of each man and woman who has been born into His heavenly kingdom. Every word in this simple sentence is full of meaning.
The Lord hath need of thee, saved one. Trade, with all its rush, and fever, a wear, and waste, lays its hands upon the Christian and says curtly: "I need you to plan, think, toil, accumulate, and die in my service." Society, too, asserts its claim, and says: "I need you with your wit, beauty, talents and accomplishments to shine in the brilliant circles of fashion, and will give you pleasure without limit if you will yield to me." Professional life lays its hand on him and says: "I need you to adorn your chosen calling, and will gratify your highest ambitions if you will come." But there comes a voice, softly floating down from twenty vanished centuries, a voice which whispers to every redeemed child of God in the hour when wealth, and pleasure, and ambition have failed to satisfy his secret longings; a voice which is true today as of old: "The Lord hath need of thee." Suppose you were absent from home, engrossed in business, pleasure, or professional activities, and a swift messenger came to you with the tidings that you wife was in deadly peril and needed you forthwith. None of the other varied interests that clamored for your tarrying could hold you by their outcry of need. That swift-handed artist, your own heart, would quickly paint a picture of the wifely love of her who was now in jeopardy, and the whispered message, "She whom thou lovest is sick," would send you flying to her bedside. Even so, amid all the conflicting interests that lay claim to your life, you cannot escape this great truth that the Lord whom you love needs you. He who loves you as no being in the universe loves: He who left the glory of heaven: He who endured the wrath of the Father against sin: He who bled between earth and heaven, all for you: He, your risen Lord, sends you this message today: "The Lord hath need of thee."
How precious, then, is this thought that the Lord really NEEDS us! The other phase of this truth we all know. That we need Him is beyond question. Not only do we sing it, but daily, hourly, do we profoundly realize it: "I need Thee every hour." For light, help, peace, victory, power, yea for all things we need Him every moment of our existence. But that He needs us--how blessed! And yet it is true. "I am the vine: ye are the branches" is the message which comes to us from His own lips. But have we caught all of its meaning? Think a moment upon the symmetry of this truth. Surely the branches need the vine. It is the source of their life. From it those branches, moment by moment, draw the tiny streams of life-giving sap that feed and build up their fabric of leaf, fiber and fruit. Apart from it they could do nothing. Severed from it they starve, shrivel, and perish. But is it not also true that the vine needs the branches? For the vine bears its fruit through the branches. It cannot get along without branches. Not a single cluster of grapes does it grow upon its own main stem, but always upon some tiny branch off-shooting from it. "I have chosen you that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide." Christ is the living Vine. He is the source of our supply. But He bears His fruit through us. He needs us for fruit-bearing -as surely as we need Him for life. There is a profound sense in which He cannot get along without us. Sometimes a great vine grows up behind a castle wall. No eye from without sees its hidden stem, strong, sturdy, and grounded in the rich garden soil. But it makes itself known through thousands of branches which cover the wall with a profusion of foliage, blossom and luscious purple fruitage, delighting the eye of every passer-by. The vine is the source of the branches' life: the branches are the expression of the vine's life. So Christ is the living Vine. He is hid behind the veil that separates the eternal from the mortal, and our life is "hid with Him in God." Men do not see Him: "the world seeth Me not." While He is the head in heaven we are the members on the earth. Therefore the hidden Vine must make Himself known through His countless fruit-bearing branches. He stands no more in street and field, and synagogue as of old, preach the glad Gospel but He would do it through us. He does not minister to the sick and afflicted with physical hands, but He needs us to do it. He does not warn the impenitent, comfort the sorrowing, cheer the fallen by word of lip today, but He would fain minister thus through us, His members and branches.
Again, the Lord hath need of THEE. Observe, what a humble instrument it was that Christ declared He needed. For that triumphal entry into the city He might have chosen splendid chariot and mettled chargers, for He who created all was worthy of earth's richest and choicest. But He chose the humblest, lowliest, most insignificant beast of burden to be found, and said, "The Lord hath need of him." Mark, He did not simply use the colt for lack of something better, but He chose it, and that too, in fulfillment of Scripture. Just so, "God hath chosen the foolish things . . . and God hath chosen the weak things . . .and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen" (I. Cor. 1 :26, etc.). Those who are nothing are God's choice! And He chooses the wise and noble only when they are willing to be as nothing. He can do more with consecrated nothingness than self-sufficient pride and loftiness. And so the message comes, today; "You who are servants with but one talent: who feel that all others are fitted for God's service except you: who shrink with fear and trembling from every proffered opportunity: you who are the humblest, the weakest, the most obscure, 'The Lord hath need of thee.' You are really God's chosen ones, if you will but place yourselves in His hands in this same spirit of nothingness which He alone can use to keep the flesh from 'glorying in His presence.'" Let us appropriate this blessed truth for our very own, and put ourselves in the hands of Him who with a worm can thresh the mountains. And then as we walk the streets, as we toil at our business, as we shut ourselves into the chamber of prayer, as we bow over His Word, as we work on in the humble sphere of life where He has placed us, it will be very sweet to hourly whisper to ourselves, "The Lord hath need of me, the Lord of heaven and earth needeth ME. Gladly, therefore, will we yield our lives to Him who in infinite grace tells us that He needs us, and condescends to make us co-workers with Himself through time and through eternity.
1 Cor. 15:58 "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable."
Luke 9:62 "No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Mark 5:36 "Be not afraid; only believe."
There is a distinct shore line between land and sea. There is a clear-cut horizon line between sky and mountain peak. Let the surrender which separates the old life of self-seeking from the new life of self-renunciation be specific and definite. The approach to it may have been by a gradual march of events, years and gracious providences. But when the call is clearly seen, the issue met, and the battle fought, let the decision be definite. Either yield, or assume the solemn responsibility of refusal. Some toy and dally -with seen truth, deceiving themselves with the thought that the passive drift of indecision is not rejection. But it is. And the seared and stultified conscience begotten from such a habit works irreparable havoc and ruin. Every crisis of decision must be met, and we meet it in the negative when we neglect to meet it at all. Therefore settle the question as becomes an immortal soul redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and now brought face to face with His consequent claim. Be deliberate indeed. Then be definite. It is a good thing to record the fact and date of so blessed a transaction with your Lord. A glance at such will do much to steady you in after times of stress and trial.
When you commit your case into the hands of a physician you are fair enough to let him have his own way. Be at least equally fair with God. Be patient while He works in you. You cannot leap at one bound into the full man in Christ Jesus. You cannot dethrone self at one blow. You are not only to renounce self but also to perfect that renunciation by living daily the life of self-renunciation. (Luke 9:23.) You will not, at the beginning, see all the meaning of surrender. You would not, be able to bear it then. You will not at first have a complete revelation of the self-life. It would break your heart to see yourself all at-once! You would be filled with despair. You will not come into the full light of His Word--the full knowledge of His will-in a moment, a month, a year. True, He has promised to "guide you into all truth," but not all at once. Wherefore be trustful, be patient. He knows you as you will never know yourself. There is much in you that requires the time element in your purification and preparation. "He himself knew what He would do." Wherefore trust Him. It will all come right in His own time and way.
Make no reservation with God. Let the act of surrender sweep IN every interest, plan, power, and possession of your being. Let one foot of the compass be pivoted at the very center the heart and will and let the other describe a circle to its most distant horizon, omitting nothing from its encircling bounds. As there is no detail of our lives beneath the notice of a loving God, there should be none too trivial to yield to Him. Of course all God asks is sincere-heartedness, not omniscience. He does not expect us to see at a flash all the details which are comprehended in the act of consecration. The God of love whose worship included a sacrifice for sins of ignorance bears very gently with such ignorance in His children. All he asks is that we yield honestly all we do see, and yield trustfully all we do not see but which He may in days to come show us to be comprehended in our act. Let us be sincerely minded to be wholly His, "and if in anything ye are otherwise minded even this will God reveal unto you." So if our hearts are honest in purpose and act, let us not come into the bondage of fearing that we have rot compassed everything in our act of surrender and that therefore God accepts it not. This is grave error. Our God is not unreasonable and arbitrary, but tender, loving, compassionate. The consecration of our life, with an honest heart, tip to our best light and understanding of consecration, is perfectly satisfactory and acceptable to Him.
But let us beware of anything knowingly unyielded to Him: of any self self-engrafted exception in our act of renunciation: of any point where the will remains consciously unsubmitted to God. When we whisper within ourselves "I can say yes to God, I can submit to His will, I can trust His love in all except this one thing," we may be assured that this one thing will work spiritual disaster in our lives. For a child to refuse to obey a mother's direction to pick up from the floor some object which it has petulantly hurled there, may seem a trivial thing. But the spirit of disobedience behind that act is a most momentous thing, for it breaks communion between parent and child and will work irreparable injury to its character in after life. Even so the thing we knowingly reserve from our dedication to God may seem trivial to us. But the failure of trust or obedience involved therein is fatal to that relation of fullest confidence toward God which is absolutely necessary to His fullest manifestation in our spiritual life. It takes but a trifling barrier to keep out the sunshine, but the keeping out of that sunshine is far from being a trifle. So the unyielded thing that bars God's fullness may seem nothing to us, but the fullness which is thus missed is everything to the soul that longs for the unveiled shining of His face.
One wild, stormy night, as the dwellers in a little cliff town on the New England coast watched the tall lighthouse through the thick gloom, a strange thing happened. The warning bells rang out in wild clangor, and the light was seen to suddenly surge forward, hang for an instant suspended over the sea, and then disappear in its swift arc-flight into the seething, hissing waters below, carrying to swift death the lonely -occupants. The morning light revealed the striking secret of the midnight catastrophe. The dwellers in the lighthouse had sometime before fastened a stout cable from the top of the beacon to the rocks below, for the hoisting of provisions and supplies. When the tide and storm arose that night the giant billows beat with weighty blows upon the great hawser until, by degrees, the tall iron supports were strained, and the overbalanced lighthouse crashed to swift ruin. A single line had done the deadly work! A single reservation or default in our surrender to God may work like havoc. If we are saved it cannot wreck our soul. But it may so bar out God's purpose of fullness in and through us that our ship of life, though unwrecked, may yet sail into the harbor of eternity an empty, pauper craft instead of a richly freighted galleon, loaded to the water's verge with all the fullness of God.
In all true consecration the deed of transfer is irrevocable. Let it be done once and forever, for all time and all eternity. Let it be so absolute and unconditional that there shall never be any need of renewing it, because there has never been any thought of revoking it. Sometimes a, thoughtless nurse will tease a child by offering it some trifle, then drawing it back out of reach as the little one essays to take it. She may repeat this process again and again until the child is wholly uncertain as to whether the object is to be given or not. Some efforts at surrender seem equally insincere and futile. The life is apparently offered to God, but as soon as He would lay His hand upon it to possess it we nervously draw it back, only to repeat again the process of offer and withdrawal. Whoso gives his life to God should give it never expecting to retake it. So not only all re-taking but all re-giving raises a suspicion of insincerity in the giver. What man who has made an honest sale or gift could re-sell or re-give without impeaching his own sincerity? Hence when the life has been really given to God there is no such thing as a re-consecration. Neither should a truly surrendered child of God be weekly or monthly re-consecrating himself to God. Every time he does so he casts a doubt upon the genuineness of the transaction by which he gave himself to God once and forever. What we may do, and should do, is, not only weekly or monthly, but daily and hourly to say to ourselves, not, "Lord, I give myself to Thee again," but, "Lord, I am Thine, now and forever; let me never doubt it or be unmindful of it." There is a beautiful story of Bengel, the famous commentator. Toiling all day long over the Book of books he was watched by one of his students to see how faithful he would be to his evening devotions amid his weariness. As the clock struck the midnight hour the curious watcher saw the saintly man close the book and betake himself to rest with the simple words, "Lord, Thou knowest that we are on the same old terms!" Even so as servants of God may we, and should we, day by day look up into the face of our Master and say, "Lord, Thou knowest that we are on the same old terms; that I am Thine and Thou art mine, forever."
Look to it that your dearest friends shake not that steadfastness. Many a soul stands strong and steady against the adversary's grosser and more flagrant assaults upon his determination to be wholly the Lord's. But the heart grows sick, and the soul faint, when, with new steps made in the new light of a fuller obedience, there falls upon the pathway the dark shadow of dissent and possible reproach from those whose loving approval and sympathy are so dear to him. Subtle and ensnaring is the temptation at this point, and many fall tinder its deadly onslaught. The wife who would give up all else for the Lord shrinks with absolute terror from the thought of the possible barrier which her closer walk with Him may raise between her and a worldly husband. The husband who would sacrifice all for Christ meets the limit of that all when he faces the thought that the wife of his love will not stand with him in the peculiar place of separation. The test seems too hard and cruel. That "a man's foes should be they of his own household" is too much for flesh and blood. And so the earthly tie becomes the limitation of a loyalty to Christ which should be limitless. Yet all this is of the evil one. Such is the stamp which Christ puts upon it when He says to His own loved disciple, seeking to allure Him from His walk with God, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
The tempter is simply using the tenderest ties of our nature to draw us away from God. And mark, that the compromise we there make invariably fails of its object. The Christian wife who yields to the play, the dance, or the card table, in the hope of winning or preserving influence over a loved husband, is taking the surest plan to destroy it. The only hope she has of lifting him to a closer walk with God is to show him the worth and preciousness of such to her own soul, and thus fill him with desire for a like richer life in Christ. But the supreme thing which convicts him of the preciousness of such a life is to see that it is so dear to her that she will not even sacrifice it upon the altar of her own love for him. Wherefore that life is at once cheapened and dishonored in his sight, when it is so sacrificed or compromised. That which is cast away so lightly must be, he argues, of so little worth that he will not trouble himself to seek it. The jewel in her spiritual crown which had seemed a blazing diamond is, after all, only paste. Respect is gone, and influence vanishes with it. The very compromise made to gain influence has annihilated it. There are hearts that have found this true, to their own unspeakable sorrow. In numberless cases this, our very steadfast loyalty to God, is His chosen plan to bring a loved one to Christ or to a deeper life in Him.
What grief then to know some day that our faithlessness has been used by the enemy to wreck or mar a life we love. We know a wife who is to-day persistently rejecting Jesus Christ because she would rather be lost with her husband than saved without him. A wifely sacrifice this seems to her, to lose her soul with his. But what awful agony to wake up in perdition and realize that if she had been obedient to God he would have followed! There are many such wives and husbands who, bearing aloft the standard of a separated life in the face of every other foe, have let it go into the dust before this one, to their own secret shame and confusion. He that cherisheth not his own beloved ones is worse than a brute. But "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." Let us be true to God at any cost, then we need not fear results, for God will care for all the consequences of obedience. But no soul can estimate the endless train of ruin that will follow disobedience to His known will, however lofty may be the pretext that prompts us to it. You who gently and lovingly, yet with rock-bound stead fastness, stand true to God in all things, are doing the one thing which can possibly lift a loved one up to your own vision of spiritual life and walk. Be not afraid. Be patient and loving in it all, and the victory which is begotten of prayer and obedience to God, though it may be long in coming, will, when it comes, be all the more glorious and complete.
A young man in the prime of life lay dying of consumption. The years of his strong, young life had been passed outside of Christ until within a short time preceding his last illness, when, won at last by the long-suffering grace of God, he gave his heart to Christ. A childlike trust in Christ, of singular beauty and restfulness in one so young in the faith, characterized his few remaining days. Leaving his room one day a friend suggested to him the hope that if it were God's will He might raise him up again to health and strength. His face lit up, and turning to the speaker, with countenance aglow with the very joy of the thought, he said, "Yes, brother, it would be beautiful to live now!" After the years away from his Lord; after the sweet realization of His tender love in redeeming his soul from death, the thought of living for Christ instead of for self, clothed life with a beauty and glory which filled the heart of the dying boy with wistful longing that could now know no fruition here.
Ah, beloved, after the years of disappointment, of baffled plans, of self-seeking, of following the Lord afar off, of bitter rebellion against His chastening hand, we reach at last the end of self, and yield to our Lord and Master the life for which He has been tenderly pleading all these years. And then with what glad assent do our hearts, echoing the words of the dying boy, cry out in sheer joy: "It is beautiful to live Now." Oh, soul, troubled, dismayed, darkened, dazed, your life has been a jar, and jangle, and discord, solely because it has been out of the center, and that center--Christ. But now that the stubborn will is yielded and His blessed will sought and found to be so "good, and acceptable, and perfect:" now that you know the peace of God as well as peace with God: now that you have found the life plan that He has, from all eternity, had for you, and are joyously obeying His word to Daniel, "Stand in thy lot until the end:" now that "to live is Christ," and "to die is gain:" all this and unspeakably more will make it "beautiful to live now!" Wherefore be hopeful. Though your progress toward Christ-likeness seems slow: though appalled at the growing revelation of your own fleshliness: though the yielded life means more than you ever dreamed before: though the "and now little children abide in Him," which is the mountain height of your Christian attainment here, seems each day to rise higher and higher above your out-reaching soul, yet be hopeful. God is working. He is guiding, shaping, transforming. He is having His way with you as never before. Look back over the days, the weeks, the months since you gave all to Him and rejoice at the real and blessed growth of His life in you. Not yet where you want to be? Nay nor where He desires you to be, and will bring you to be. But He is faithful. Do you be hopeful, and He will bring you into the place, the power, and the peace foreordained in Christ for you from all eternity.
2 Cor. 5:17 "Behold, all things are become new."
Acts 9:6 "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
AFTER the Lord's tender plea for the presentation of our bodies has been heeded: after His mastership has been acknowledged: after conviction and struggle have given place to decision--what then?
"Will there be manifestation of the fullness of the Spirit when we yield our lives to Him? Will we be aware of a great inner change in those lives ? Will there be a conscious transformation, a conscious new estate of Christian experience? To this we answer: Is the sluggish, stagnant river conscious of the inrushing waters of the sea, as it feels the throb and rush of her cleansing tides? Is the dark, gloomy old castle conscious of the fresh, sweet air that fills its windswept chambers, as they are flung wide open to it? Are the sightless eyes, that have been veiled for years in hopeless darkness, conscious of the bright light of day, when it first breaks upon their enraptured vision? So, assuredly, is there a conscious manifestation to the soul that has given itself, for all time and all things, to God. There must be, there will be, a change; a realization of His presence to a degree never before; a consciousness that the greatest crisis in the spiritual life has been passed. Nor does it matter whether such manifestation of His fullness bursts upon us like the sudden out-flashing of the sun from behind dark clouds, or steals upon us like the slow-increasing of the morning twilight, gradual, but sure. Enough for us to know that such manifestation does come; that He does reveal Himself in fullness, power, and blessing never known before. His beseeching us to present our bodies to Him was not idle entreaty; our yielding to Him was not vain experiment. He fulfills His promise, "I will manifest myself as I do not unto the world." Henceforth there is height and depth, peace and power, joy and blessing, communion and service, prayer and praise, such as the past has never possessed. To that soul who gives himself wholly to God, life is transformed beyond his fondest hopes; the blessings of the Abundant Life become richer and fuller as the days go by; God does exceeding abundantly above all he can ask or think. He is "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;" "filled with all the fullness of God;" made to "abound more and more;" and out of this abundance overflow ministry, testimony, and blessing to those about him." ("The Three-fold Secret of the Holy Spirit," pp. 70, 71.)
Not that surrender is a meritorious act that wins the fullness of the Spirit, but simply the act needed to give the Spirit a chance to fill us. God does not flood our being with great tides of spiritual life, all independent of our own free will. He does not lay hold of men and women and carry them to the mountain tops of Christian life and blessing regardless of all choice and violation of their own. On the contrary the Spirit's method seems to be first, conviction of God's fullness and the soul's need; then a step of obedience or faith which will give a waiting, willing God the desired chance to fulfill that need; and then life and blessing to him who obeys God in taking that step. The revelation and conviction of truth; the obedience of faith consequent upon that revelation; and the blessing consequent upon that obedience is thus, perhaps, the invariable order of the Spirit's working in the soul. It is in this divine order that surrender takes its true place, and that Paul cries, "Yield yourselves to God." Surrender is not bribing or buying the grace of God, it is simply giving opportunity to work. Surrender does not build the reservoir of God's abundant life, but does open the channels through which that life may be "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Christ declares that out of our inmost being shall flow rivers of water. This spake He of the Spirit in them who had faith in Him. But surrender to God is one of the highest forms of faith. For, following the reception of the Spirit by faith, it is one of the highest forms of faith to so implicitly trust God as to give the whole life into His keeping to do and submit to His, will. Wherefore we may always expect to find the fuller life of the Spirit linked with that complete yielding to God which has been the theme of our study in these pages. For God never fails to respond with divine love to every act of faith in His children, and the faith which received the Spirit at conversion cannot fail to know the blessed fullness of that same Spirit when it yields itself wholly to Him who has been received.
The Word says of Christ, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1: 4). Christ, too, says of Himself, "He that followeth me shall have . . . the light of life" (John 8:12). This striking phrase "the light of life" suggests another sequence of surrender in the light which floods the soul from the presence of the abundant life of the Spirit.--The beams of the pale moon as she voyages across the midnight heavens, fall cold and lifeless upon the recipient earth beneath. But the light of the sun, falling upon that same earth, warms and quickens into life and growth every plant its genial rays touch. It is not only light but is the light of life, a peculiar kind of light, a light which emanates from a life-giving body, and which quickens, and thrills, and begets life in its illuminating as no other light can or does. Of this peculiar kind is the light which is shed abroad in the heart of a yielded child of God. It differs from mere knowledge. It is more than the cold, clear, light which enters through the inlet of the intellect. It is the light of life; the light which radiates from the Spirit of Life within him. No other light illuminates and reveals as this does. The surrendered man sees things as never before. To him the Word of God becomes a new book.
It thrills; it quickens; it convicts of failure and of unChristlikeness; it searches and lays bare the innermost depths of the soul; it discloses the holiness of God; it stimulates growth; it begets new aspirations; it stirs to zeal and service before unknown. Nor need he marvel at this. For this book is simply the book of the Spirit of Life, who floods its pages with the light of life, in him who has come to know His abundance of life. And not only from the Word of God, but also in the providences of God, and the inward monitions of the Spirit of God, does this new light break in upon his soul. Under it he now begins to understand the secret of guidance. The past lights up anew. Events apparently disconnected are seen to have been links in the chain of God's guidance. Impressions noted, but not understood, are perceived to have been the movings and leadings of God's Spirit within. The will of God is now seen in the chastening and testings of life, as we'll as in its joys and blessings, and the indescribable experience of seeing God at work in and through his life is sure proof that the light of life is illumining his inner man with its clear shining.
This, too, is an important phase of the afterward of surrender. When we yield ourselves to God as a living sacrifice while holy and acceptable in our standing in Christ, we are far from holy in our state. Yet it is only in proportion to our holiness of life and walk in Him that God can work His will in and through us as His instruments. What we are, becomes the measure of what we can do, or rather of what God can do through us. We must be Christlike in inner life if we would be Christlike in outward deed. A holy God needs a holy instrument through which to live His holy life. All that is of self within us hinders the manifestation of the Christ within us. Therefore we may expect that the God who wants a holy instrument for service will, as soon as it is yielded to Him, set His hand to its purification. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth:" He "child-traineth," as the word signifies. Once yielded to Him He lays His hand upon us, not in law, but in grace: not in punishment but in purification: not with the wrath of a judge, but the love of a Father. So well pleased is He with His firstborn Son that He would, by chastening, conform us all unto the image of that Son. Wherefore it is with the tender love of a Father, solicitous that His child might attain unto His highest purpose of Christ-likeness that there comes upon us that child-training which is the explanation of the furnace, the crucible, and the refining pot. And we ourselves may either greatly aid, or sadly hinder His work in this regard. With our wills pliant and submissive to Him at all points very quickly will He carry on his blessed work within us. But with those wills stubborn and discordant equally slow and unsatisfactory will be the process. "Sanctify them through the Truth, Thy Word is Truth,' prayed the Master. And it is even thus that the Father child-trains. The Spirit of Truth reveals the barrenness, poverty, and deformity of the self-life, and the richness, fullness, and loveliness of the Christ-life within us. With such revelation of the Truth the Spirit seeks the assent of our will to putting off the one, and putting on the other. And just as we yield our assent will He be able to work into our state, our walk, that sanctification which, in our standing, is already complete in Christ Jesus.
"'The same light that shows us sin will show the way out of it," says Andrew Murray. So, too, the same Spirit who reveals sin will lead to detachment from it, and from the things which foster it. Thus it is that the surrendered child of God soon finds himself walking the pathway of separation. Things which were doubtful before are now seen to be sinful. Many afore time pleasures are relinquished because .they no longer bring enjoyment but condemnation. Hosts of so-called innocent gratifications are clearly seen to be wasteful ones in Him who is here now "not to do his own .will but the will of Him that sent him." The deep change in. the inner motive of life--"ye are not your own"--soon works out its consequent changed view of what he dare do with the time, talents, and possessions which are in stewardship of the man who now belongs to another. He disjoins himself from former favorite pursuits or indulgences because he sees them in an entirely new light, wondering meantime why he did not always, or why others do not now see them thus. And, handfast with separation from things comes isolation from men. Difference in desires raises barriers, as surely as accord therein begets fellowship. How far friendships hinge upon community of interest is only seen when the latter vanishes. The truly consecrated man or woman is the last in the world to- cherish a "holier-than-thou" spirit might repel men; longs to be closer to the heart and life of all men than ever before: is filled with love beyond all previous experience. Yet companionships change; friends seem to be drifting away; a conscious loneliness begins to steal into the heart. Part of the price of a persistent determination to climb the highest mountain peaks of separation and fellowship with God is to lose the comradeship of those who will not climb there with you. It seems a high price to pay but, necessary to win the prize, it is worth the paying. Better a thousand-fold the loneliness of separation from the world than that of separation from God. Better the loneliness of Enoch than the companionship of Lot. There is much of danger that our false conception of "all things to all men," may make us to be nothing to any man. Isolation is insulation. But insulation is power in the spiritual as well as the electrical sphere. The hearts that need help and light seek it not among those who walk on the level with them, but from those who walk on the heights with God. If loneliness comes into the consecrated life because of its close and conscientious walk with God then welcome such loneliness, for it only brings a closer fellowship with that Lonely One who was the greatest helper a needy, sorrowing world has ever known, even though He walked in utter separation from it.
With purification and separation is linked suffering. There will be more or less of it in every yielded life. While the new man dwells in heavenly places, the old man has been put, and is to be kept, in the place of crucifixion. Thus the consecrated life has a dual aspect. It is related to the risen Christ on the one hand, to the crucified Christ on the other. Hence our experience is two-fold in its character. In our steady progress toward the consummation of our earthly Christian experience, that of abiding in Christ, God finds it needful to deal with us in relation to the self within, as well as the Christ within: from the standpoint of crucifixion, as well as that of resurrection. We bear His cross as well as His yoke. We experience the suffering of the former, as well as the easiness of the latter. His yoke of obedience is easy when Self is on the cross. But Self must and does first suffer in the crucifixion. In times of such suffering, when we find that God is dealing with us on the crucifixion side, let us patiently endure, for it is sure to be followed by a greater revelation of the power of His resurrection life within us. Let us ever remember that we bear about within us the old man, hanging in his appointed place--the cross, and that the place of death for him must forsooth be a place of suffering for us. How much of this we need, God alone knows and appoints. As we press nearer to the climax of abiding in the Resurrected One subtle phases of the self-life are revealed, all of which God expects us to submit to the cross. Of this fact we may be assured, that as we "always bear about in our body the deadness (dying) of the Lord Jesus," the life of the Lord Jesus will also be manifested in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:10).
God is sure to lead into service the life which is yielded to Him. Such servantship is our lofty privilege here. When we yield we yield ourselves servants to obey Him, and henceforth "His servants we are." To become a servant and find no service would be strange indeed. Therefore if we patiently wait He will surely bring us into our appointed life work. For we are members of His body and He desires to work through us His will and purposes for a lost world. It may not be the active service we have planned. He may design for us a ministry of prayer, of patience, even of suffering for His name. But the highest form of service is to be in His will whatever that may be for us. If time does not, eternity assuredly will reveal that in so doing we have supremely glorified God. The consecrated child of God may therefore trustfully wait upon God for the revelation of and guidance into his life work. In quietness and confidence shall be his strength, nor shall he be put to shame. The ministry which God has chosen for him in Christ from all eternity may burst upon him like the lightning flash. Or it may come to him step by step, in the steady, almost unnoted broadening of some humble ministry until his life-work is before him. By the joy he finds in such ministry, his adaptation to it, its constant presence in his thought and plan, God's seal of success upon it, and his own growing consciousness that God has called him to it, the Spirit will cause him to assuredly gather that this is his place of service. Happy is he who when he hears the voice behind him saying "this is the way, walk ye in it," takes up His yoke with joy and gladness to walk with Him until he too can say, "I have finished the work Thou hast given me to do." Out of" God's will he is like an ocean derelict, adrift without pilot, port, or purpose. But once yielded to God, and finding his appointed place, he is like the ruler of a well-laden merchant ship, voyaging with compass, steady wind, and well-marked chart to a definite haven where some glad day his Master's voice shall rejoice his eager heart with, "Well done . . . thou has been faithful . . . I will make thee ruler over many things."
All this I may expect of God after surrender. But now that I am His yielded servant, what may God justly expect of me?
I am to cease from self -dependence, and am henceforth to live a life of constant trust in, and dependence upon, the indwelling Christ. I have learned that in me alone, that is in my flesh, there is not one atom of spiritual life, and that the sole source of that spiritual life is the Son of God, who dwells within me in the Spirit. Apart from the Christ within me I am a spiritual pauper. The one great axiom of my new life is to be this: TRUST THE CHRIST WITHIN. YOU. He is my wisdom, my life, my light. He assures me that the Spirit dwelling within me has taken charge of me. The Spirit will guide: the Spirit will teach: the Spirit will purify. He will reveal the Christ: He will fit me for service: He will speak through me: He will work the works of God through me. He will at all times do all which my life needs for its perfect growth in Christ. In the old life I schemed, and planned, and fretted concerning my daily round of duty and service. In the new life I am to leave all to Him. In the old life I constantly trusted my strength, my judgment, my wisdom. In the new I am to trust His, and His alone. He is now wholly in charge. The reins are in His grasp. He is the teacher, I am the scholar; He the worker, I only the instrument; He the potter, I the clay. The Spirit is therefore now to have possession and control of me in a sense and measure unknown before I renounced proprietorship. I am now to learn the greatest lesson in the school of faith, the lesson of constant distrust of self, and constant looking unto Jesus. I am to be self-dependent in nothing, Christ-dependent in all things. Not only am I justified by faith, but I now also realize that "the just shall LIVE by faith." Jesus Christ says, "I AM THE LIFE." Therefore I am to be constantly looking to Him; I am to be continually drawing upon Him. I am to be ever living by faith in Him. The justified man says, "I trusted, and received Thee as life;" the surrendered man, "I am trusting, and constantly drawing upon Thy life." His present tense life is to be met by my present tense faith. The correlative of His "I am the Life" is my "Lord, I am living by faith in Thee." The very life which floods heaven is dependent life, "a river of water of life proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." Rev. 22:1. If the Son of God lived and the redeemed in heaven shall live thus, how much more should I, His weak, earthly child, so live. It will take line upon line and precept upon precept, with many failures and blunders on my part, ere my patient Guide will be able to inculcate this lesson of constantly distrusting the flesh within me, and constantly trusting the Christ within me. Yet He is never weary of teaching, and by His grace I shall assuredly learn it, and come to know in measure the blessed experience of the man of Tarsus, as he proclaims the great secret: "I AM LIVING BY FAITH." Gal. 2: 20.
I am to accept God's will. That will is now to be the standard for the direction of my life. I am no longer to ask myself what I want to do but what God would have me do. Here God's Word as the revelation of that will is to take a new place in my life. I am to accept that Word as the standard by which I am to live. I am to accept it, however it may clash with my own thought or desire. I am to accept it, however others may differ or dissuade. When that Word says "love your enemies, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you," I am to accept and set myself to do this revealed will of God, however impracticable or absurd the world may deem it. When that Word says "casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you," I am to accept that as His will concerning care, and I am immediately to proceed to put it into practice. When that Word says, "My God shall supply all your need," I am to cease from all anxious care concerning my needs and look to God to supply as I obey. As I study God's Word, truth will flash upon me with which my daily life does not agree. I am not for a moment to question that truth, but am at once to bring my daily life into harmony with it. Thus to accept the will of God, as revealed in the Word of God, and to incarnate it in one's own life and walk, is a most heart-searching process for God's surrendered child. It ministers to rapidity of spiritual growth as naught else can possibly do. It fills him with amazement as he sees how far his life has fallen short of God's will.
I am to patiently submit to God's will. To be patient means literally "to stay under." Like the rough diamond under the polisher's tool, I am to stay under God's hand whatever may come upon me. Instead of the exultant spiritual experience I look for, may come suffering, tremendous testing, mysterious providences, darkness and uncertainty as to the future. Amid them all I am simply to stay under God's hand. I am to say "Thy will be done," both in good and evil. I am to learn "in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content." Many are willing to be in God's hand for service, but not under God purification. They are ready for the field, but not for the furnace or the forge. They are ready to minister, but not to patiently endure all things which come into their lives as either sent or permitted, by Him. Yet part of my surrender and submission to God is to submit to His choice as to the kind of experience which is to come into my life at and after surrender. He suffered His own Son to come into a place of terrific testing at the hands of the adversary at the very beginning of His ministry. The servant is not greater than his Lord. God knows exactly what is best for me. Therefore, every event which comes into my life after surrender, however inexplicable, and hard to endure, I am to patiently submit to as the very thing which God deems best for my purification, strengthening, and growth in the Christian life. "The present circumstance which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ) is the best shaped tool in the Father's hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him then. Do not push away the instrument, lest you lose also its work." Consider the unreasonableness of any other attitude. One day I surrender myself to God to live His will instead of my own. The next day comes trial testing or suffering. Straightway, perhaps, I grow rebellious and begin to doubt my surrender, my acceptance, yea, even God Himself. That is, not twenty-four hours after I have said, "Lord, not my will, but Thine," I break faith with God because something which is "not-my-will" has entered my life. Let me ever remember that my supreme aim as a surrendered servant is to live the submission which I have made, and that this is exactly what I am doing when I patiently submit to all things which touch my life.
I am to do God's will. If by a definite act I offer myself to an employer for service it is mere honesty for me to proceed daily and faithfully to do that which I have yielded myself to do. And what but this is my surrender to God? It is (see Chapter I.) "the voluntary offering of ourselves to God to do His will instead of our own." This is what I yield myself to do. Therefore let me do it. Nothing else would be fair to man. Surely naught else is fair to God. To accept, submit to, and hourly do His will is now to be the one aim and concern of my life. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me," said the Son. This, too, is our food as well as His: we grow strong upon it; we soon become weak and faint without it. Remembering the lofty life purpose of the first-born Son, "Lo I come to do Thy will," we too as yielded sons are to keep this ever before us as the supreme single purpose of our earthly life, even as it shall be of our eternal life in the ages to come, "The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."