To repent and believe in the Gospel means surrendering to Christ and His will and way for our lives. There is an initial surrender that happens when we are born again as believers, but growing and maturing in faith requires ongoing surrender. Let’s talk about the significance of both types of surrender and what they mean for us spiritually.
As I stated above, true faith in Christ requires an initial surrender to God. Again, Jesus said to repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15), which is the message that we are all sinners in need of a savior and Jesus is that Savior.
The Bible teaches that by nature, we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3) and that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). So, Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully man, came as the perfect sacrifice. He was crucified, died, and rose from the dead to forgive sinners and justify them (declare them righteous) before God. By grace, through faith in Jesus alone, we receive this gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Sinning against an eternal God, means we suffer eternal consequences if we are unrepentant. But, Jesus mercifully forgives those who genuinely confess their sins and express a desire to turn from their old ways of living and be changed by Him. True repentance leads to salvation and it requires complete surrender.
Surrendering to Christ means total trust
I read in a recent study (Amazon affiliate link) that this initial act of surrender is like signing a blank contract to God that He will fill out later. It’s as if we are saying, “God, I vow to follow you whatever the cost, whatever may come. I don’t know the future, but I trust You fully no matter what.” This is what initially surrendering to Christ looks like, which leads to saving faith.
Our salvation is secure
The Holy Spirit moves our hearts to surrender in faith and after that initial surrender, God’s salvation work is complete (Hallelujah)! Jesus’s last words on the cross were, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) meaning, His sacrifice was enough. We do not need to strive to gain or keep our salvation. Those truly born again are declared righteous and secure in Christ, simply by the work of Jesus on our behalf. Our works contribute nothing to our salvation. The Bible makes this very clear and this is the message of many of Jesus’ teachings during His ministry.
Surrendering to Christ leads to sanctification
However, our works do contribute to our sanctification, which is the ongoing process of maturing in our faith and being made more like Christ. This type of growth requires ongoing surrender. Our “legal status” before God is “righteous,” but the reality is, we still sin. We still fall back into old, sinful habits and ways of thinking. We can easily forget that our lives are not our own. They now belong to Christ and we have new life in Him (Ephesians 4:17-24). This truth should lead us into deeper areas of surrender. But, what does that look like?
The Spirit leads us in surrender
When I recently determined that I would live more intentionally surrendered to Christ, my intentions were good, but I caught myself surrendering in my flesh in some ways. To surrender is to be led by the Spirit in how He wants you to use your time, not necessarily how you think you should be spending your time.
Fully surrendering to Christ does not necessarily mean that you have to give up all your free time, hobbies, friends, desires, etc. It means holding the things you care about loosely – in submission to God. He may require you to give up something completely, partially, or not at all. The things we enjoy that don’t necessarily seem “spiritual” are oftentimes gifts for our enjoyment! But, when those gifts become idols or we are engaged in sinful behavior, God desires to do a work in us that requires surrender.
Ultimately, ongoing surrender means holding all He has given us with open hands. It requires trusting in His promises to provide for our every need and humility to submit to His will for our lives.
Surrendering to Christ
Surrendering to Christ takes faith. Whether it be that first, initial surrender that leads to saving faith or it’s the hundredth time in an ongoing process, we all can ask God how we can live lives surrendered to Him. Here are some questions to consider:
- What is keeping you from fully surrendering to Christ in faith? Start reading the Bible (I recommend beginning with Matthew or John) and ask God to reveal who He truly is to You.
- What areas of your life are most challenging to submit to God? Ask Him to reveal why that is and be open to His response.
- What is one thing God might be asking you to surrender starting today? Is it how you spend a certain amount of time or money? Could it be a certain way of thinking? Does it mean saying yes to something or no to another?
God is calling us to deeper surrender and we can trust Him to provide for our every need in the process.
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