Archive: We Must Surrender Ourselves

By E. Stanley Jones
May/June 1990
Good News

Why is God so cruel? Why does he demand so much of us? In demanding self-surrender, is God being cruel or consistent?

God obeys every law he demands of us. He especially obeys and illustrates the law of finding his life by losing it. This principle is at the very heart of the universe. One verse vividly proclaims that fact “the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd and will guide them to the springs of the water of life” (Rev. 7:17 NEB). That phrase, “the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne,” is the most important of any verse in Scripture, or in literature anywhere. Show me what you think is at the heart of the universe and I will show you what will be at the heart of your conduct.

Call the roll of the answers of philosophy and religion as to what is at the heart of the throne of the universe, and what answers do we get? Justice, power, law, indifference, question mark, favoritism, something that cannot be wangled, the non-manipulatable, the ground of our being. Nothingness. Not one could rise to, or could dare think of, self-giving, sacrificial love, “the Lamb” being at the heart of the throne. That would be unthinkable; it could only come as revelation. The Word had to become flesh; we had to see it in the Lamb, God on a cross!

The unimaginable revelation is this: God not only redeems in terms of Jesus Christ, he rules in terms of Jesus Christ. The Lamb is at the heart of the throne, not merely the cross! Does God rule from a cross? Then the cross is final power and not only absolute goodness. Is this a stray thought woven into the fabric of Christianity or is it the warp and woof of the whole? This verse lets us see that it is at the very basis of the Christian faith: “Therefore, my brothers, I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him: a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1 NEB). The word therefore is the pivot upon which this whole epistle turns from doctrines to duties, from what God has done to what we are to do. And what has he done? The whole of Romans up to the eighth chapter is an exposition of what God has done to redeem us. The following passage lets us see what he has done: “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God’s own proof of his love towards us. And so, since we have now been justified by Christ’s sacrificial death, … For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, … now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. But that is not all: We also exult in God through our Lord Jesus, through whom we have now been granted reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8-11 NEB). Also: “He did not spare his own Son, but surrendered him for us all; and with this gift how can he fail to lavish upon us all he has to give?” (Rom. 8:32 NEB). Put with the above this: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19 NEB). Put these passages together and they spell out the astonishing news: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.

So self-surrender is at the very heart of God. When he asks us to surrender ourselves he is asking us to fulfill the deepest thing in himself and the deepest thing in us. It is not only the deepest in God – it is also the highest in God. God was never higher than when he gave himself for us. If there were a cosmic newspaper announcing: “GOD THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE GIVES HIMSELF TO REDEEM A PLANET CAILED EARTH,” the universe would gasp in astonishment. That would be news. It would set the standard for life in the universe. We must do what God does, surrender ourselves. If we do that we are in harmony with the universe. If we go against what God does, make ourselves the center of life, then we are running athwart the universe; we have nothing behind us except our lonely wills; we are estranged and out of harmony with the universe and ourselves. We have saved our lives and have lost them.

So Paul says, “Therefore, … I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him: a living sacrifice.”

Why by God’s mercy? Is he implying, “God have mercy on you if you don’t?” I think so, for life says so! All the problems of human living come out of self-centered living. Center yourself on yourself and you won’t like yourself. And no one else will like you. A psychologist says, “It’s a million chances to one that the self-centered are unpopular.” With whom? First, with themselves. They do as they like and then don’t like the self they are expressing. But when you try to digest selfcenteredness the stomach turns sour. You are made for outgoing love, not ingrown self-preoccupation. Neither can you as a person digest it, nor can your relationships.

This law of saving your life by losing it is not based on God’s whim, nor even upon God’s will – it is based on God’s character. That is the way God is, and that is the way God acts, and if we act otherwise we are at cross-purposes with God and consequently get hurt. For you cannot be at cross-purposes with reality and get away with it. You don’t break this law, you break yourself upon it. It registers its consequences within you. You are paid in your own person the fitting wage of such perversion, the perversion of making yourself God instead of surrendering to God.

So surrender to God is not merely a religious doctrine, it is a life demand. The rest of Romans 12:1 says that offering “your very selves to him: a living sacrifice” is “the worship offered by mind and heart.” Note “mind,” or as the King James Version says, “your reasonable service.” To surrender to God is “reasonable,” the sensible thing to do. From the moment you surrender to God, life takes on meaning, goal, purpose, a sense of going somewhere worthwhile – life adds up to sense.

The article is excerpted from Victory Through Surrender by E. Stanley Jones, copyright 1966, Abingdon Press. Used by permission.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List!

Click here to sign up to our email lists:

•Perspective Newsletter (weekly)
• Transforming Congregations Newsletter (monthly)
• Renew Newsletter (monthly)

Make a Gift

Global Methodist Church

Is God Calling You For More?


Latest Articles: