Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

Bible Studies

 

Unconditional Surrender, by Richard Kirby

All wars end in one of two ways: either the two warring parties agree on terms, or one side surrenders to the other. Sometimes one side will surrender after agreeing to certain conditions—for example, the losing country is allowed keep its pre-war colonial possessions, or its own form of government. But often the winning side demands “unconditional surrender.” That means the conquered people have no rights, can set no terms or conditions, and are at the absolute mercy of the victors. We see an example of that kind of surrender in I Kings chapter 20, verses 1-4:

 “Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram [Syria] mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it.  2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, ‘This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 “Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.”’ 4 The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.” 

Ben Hadad demanded and got absolute, unconditional surrender. Things subsequently worked out quite differently in this very interesting story, but at first Ahab offered the Syrian king everything he possessed. Let’s focus on that one sentence: “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

This sentence very aptly describes what ought to be our attitude towards God. These are the words every child of God ought to say to God. If our hearts are willing to say these words and mean them, there is no limit to what God will do for us and through us. But the condition of God’s full blessing is Unconditional Surrender. The Holy life has two sides: first to do what God wants you to do; and second, to let God do what He wants to do. If we do that, we will be wonderfully pleased at what God will make of our lives. 

It matters very much to whom we surrender, and whom we serve. If sin rules us, sin is our master; and the end of sin is death. If drugs or alcohol is our master, it rules us and we obey it. If pride rules us, pride is our master; if fear rules us, fear is our master; if greed rules us, greed is our master. It matters very much to whom we surrender.  Rom. 6:16:  “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” 

I once attended a Christian meeting in which the guest speaker was a Marine Corps colonel. He was talking about how he had learned to raise his hands in praise and surrender to God. As he demonstrated, the man in charge of the meeting said: “This is the only circumstance in which I would be comfortable seeing a Marine colonel with his hands up!” That’s right!  We don’t want our Marines surrendering to anyone but the Heavenly Father, do we?  It matters much to whom we surrender. 

 

At the end of World War II the Allies demanded “Unconditional Surrender” of the conquered Germans and Japanese. General MacArthur became the Supreme Commander of occupied Japan, and remained so from 1945 to 1952. He and his staff wrote a new constitution for them, setting Japan on the road to Democracy. That constitution has governed Japanese affairs ever since without the change of a comma. When MacArthur left Japan over 200,000 Japanese lined the streets to honor him. Every country of which the Americans had control became a free, thriving  democracy. Every country the Russians occupied became a virtual prison camp. West Germany, under American control, became the foremost economic power in Europe. East Germany, under the Russians, became destitute, practically enslaved; they were forced to build the Berlin Wall, not to keep others out, but to keep their own people in. The Communist countries called themselves “Workers’ Paradise,” but had to build walls and barbwire fences to keep the workers from escaping from “paradise.” 

So you see, it matters very much to whom a country surrenders. Towards the end of the war the German army was rushing to surrender to Americans rather than to the Soviets. Thousands of Poles defected from the Soviet Army to the American forces, but Eisenhower turned them back to the Russians to face prison or death. And to Roosevelt’s eternal shame Stalin and communism gained Eastern Europe, Manchuria, and ultimately China through the treacherous agreements of Potsdam and Yalta. It matters much to whom one surrenders

But what if one surrenders absolutely to God?  What will God make of him or her? God is not an oppressive tyrant, but a loving Father, Who has nothing but good wishes and good intentions. The only thing that keeps Him from blessing us beyond measure and making us supremely happy is our own failure to surrender everything to Him. Let’s face it, our surrender is not absolute, not unconditional, but partial. 

We have surrendered partially, enough that we can call ourselves Christians, enough that God has saved us and blessed us. But much of our lives remain unblessed because we are not totally surrendered to God.  That is what God demands of us, Absolute Surrender

In our rebellion and sin, before we became Christians,  we were “enemies of God”:  Rom. 5:8-10: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”  

We were like a rebel army, hostile to God, unwilling that He should rule over us. And while we were in that sinful, rebellious state, God placed all of our sins on Christ so that, for His part, He could “be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24b). 

In order to be just, God must punish sin and the sinner; but He placed all of our guilt on Jesus Christ, allowing Him to be punished in our place, so that He could reconcile us unto Himself. 

2 Cor. 5:17-21: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [Or be a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

We learn several important things from these verses: 1) God was willing to forgive the Rebels, place all of their sins on Christ, and not count their past sins against them. 2) Those who surrender are not punished but are given a wonderful New Beginning. 3) The message of the Gospel, which we preach, is this: “Rebels, lay down your arms, surrender and ‘be reconciled to God.’ Surrender to Him absolutely, unconditionally. There is no enmity on His side. He is ready and willing to forgive and forget and make you His precious, blessed friends.” 4) Notice that Paul doesn’t say that God must be reconciled to the rebels. He loved us so much that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Nothing has changed on God’s side, except that now, having given Christ to take on Himself the punishment due to us, God can forgive our sins without being unjust. It is WE who had to be reconciled to God, not God to us. 

It would be a terrible mistake, however, for us to think that we can set the terms or conditions of our surrender; it must be total, unconditional surrender. We are the Rebels. God is the Almighty Creator. He is everything; we are nothing compared to Him. The distance between creature and Creator is unspeakably vast. We have a choice. We can take the way of Satan, who would not allow God to rule over him. Or we can humbly surrender to God’s love. John Milton represents Satan as saying, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” And that is almost exactly what the sinner is saying: “Better to suffer my miserable, unhappy life than to let God tell me what to do.” See what good it has done the Devil:  

Rev. 20:10: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” 

The same fate awaits those Rebels, who resist God’s merciful offer to the end. Those who hold on to their wretched lives, and successfully hold out against God, will take their miserable rebellion into eternity. 

Rev. 20:15: "If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  They remained Rebels to the end. 

But what about those of us who have surrendered to God’s offer, and have been born again?  If there is little victory in our Christian walk, if we are in and out of victory, in and out of Church, then we know that our surrender has not been Unconditional. As I said before, the principle involved is this: whoever rules us is our master. If God is our Master, and rules us, we are blessed; if we are our own masters, our lives are full of defeat and sorrow. It's very foolish to try to serve God on our terms, and not on His. He alone has set the terms of surrender--and the terms are absolute, unconditional surrender. I assure you that the ONE SECRET of a happy, successful life both now and for eternity is TOTAL SURRENDER TO GOD. We ought to make it our UTMOST PRIORITY, to seek out any part or place in our souls that we were not willing to surrender.  

Man is born to trouble, and being a sanctified believer does not exempt us from trouble. But if you are not enjoying victory, even in the midst of trouble, then that is a certain indication that you have not totally surrendered you whole life to God. You don’t have to do it on your own, in your own strength.  All you bring to the transaction is a willingness and genuine effort to surrender all.

God will do the actual work in you. I call to your mind in closing one of my favorite scripturesPhilippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed —not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence— continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  

You do your part: Search the depths of your heart and see if you don’t find that your consecration to God has had reservations and conditions; see if there aren’t areas of life where you have said to God, “Hands Off! This is Mine!”  I say to you, “Be totally reconciled to God”; let Him make your life complete. You must do all you can to be entirely holy, entirely given to Him, “with fear and trembling”; then He will work in you the power both to will and to do ALL of His will.

Let’s pray. Father, please don’t let our hearts deceive us so that we hold back anything from you. We know that our only hope, our only happiness is in total surrender, unconditional surrender to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.