You may or may not know that there are many benefits from knowing God in a personal way. The most important thing about all this to me, is to enjoy His companionship through the day.
We can know that Jesus is God manifested in flesh and blood like us, but not really understand how to walk with Him. We can understand that part of His purpose was to remove, in His physical death, all the obstacles that could ever get in the way of an open and loving relationship between God and man, but not experience the full manifestation of that relationship.
I have discovered that there are many roads to Jesus, but Jesus is the only way to the Father, and the only way to stay on this way is to walk out a life journey of humble openness to Him. In my experience that does not look like total surrender at first, and the important thing to remember is that it is His love that brings us to Him and pursuing His love is a key to a fulfilling relationship with Him.
A question I often ask when teaching this is – So how do we surrender? What is really the action part of this? For me it is in letting go all that I want, (my agendas, desires, religious ways) and fastening the eyes of my heart on Jesus believing He will reveal Himself and become more active in my life. As I do, He gives Life and all the answers that I need and could ever want because He is loving, gentle, kind and generous. This is not just a Sunday or meeting thing but every day.
We cannot know or receive Jesus lovingkindness until we surrender to Him. Why? Because, unfortunately, we are not naturally kind, gentle and loving people like He is. This means we have to work hard to be like Him unless of course, Jesus Himself is actually working through us, putting His attitudes, thoughts and motivations in our hearts and working these through us. He simply will not share Himself with someone who is not surrendered to Him, because He surrenders His love in return. It must be a two way relationship to be fair to Him. Matthew 5:1-8.
Jesus started the process by laying down His life on the cross in our place so that we could receive Him and live with Him. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends John 15:12-17. Doing what Jesus asks requires surrender or laying down my life because what He asks is usually opposite to what we would naturally do. As a result of this surrender, we become His friends. John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I ask of you. Some results of living in an obedient and attentive relationship with Jesus are listed in Matthew 5. So I call the attributes of verses 1 - 8 the fruits of relationship because they are really character traits of God Himself that become infused into our heart attitudes as we relate with Him.
Realising that this life of our own is not worth living without Him helps us to let go our desires and our agendas. Beside Jesus and His empowering presence on the inside of us, life is nothing but a set of rules in a cruel and vicious world of selfish people, who want to take everything from us giving nothing in return. Also, when examined, every world Religion boils down to a set of rules or ”ethics” (designed to help us to live together with as little conflict as possible). Most of these rules and ethics are rarely kept and followed successfully – Living life without Jesus is like this.
Living life with Jesus is more and more about not needing rules or laws because we actually and naturally want to live in ways that dont need them. I explain this more in "New creature and old", the fourth article in this series.
Receiving Him is part of surrender to Him. John 1:12 But to those who did receive Him He granted authority to become God’s children, that is, to those who believe in His name.
In John 15 according to the analogy Jesus used, we must surrender to His influence for us to be placed as a branch on His vine, and then keep surrendering to continue to be fruitful.
Belief from our hearts has an important part in entry to a family relationship with God. Without at least some belief in who He really is and what that means, connection with Him is shaky and surrender to Him is incomplete. Mentally deciding to follow Jesus is the beginning but is not enough! For the journey with Him to truly begin, we must also believe with our hearts! In many instances, a simple acceptance of something about who Jesus is (or perhaps what He has done for you) will open the door for Him to fill your heart with faith, making it possible for you to surrender to Him for the first time. But TOTAL surrender to His Lordship comes more from a heart based response to Him, as opposed to a solely mental decision.
John 6:29 Jesus said, "This is God's work, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only physically born Son, that whoever believes in him should not be lost, but have everlasting life."
So what is it that He is saying we believe in this passage in John 3? Let us look into the passage to see what Jesus is saying about beliefs.
John 3:14-16 In this passage, which is part of Jesus talk with Nicodemus, He is declaring three beliefs needed to walk in His Life in a connected way.
1) John 3:13 no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven Believe that Jesus was God in flesh coexisting in heaven and earth at the same time. So do you and I now. Believe that this is because He lives inside each of us, in His fullness, just as He lives in heaven.
2) John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the (bronze) serpent (on a pole) in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up In those days Moses set up the serpent statue on a pole in the middle of the camp when God told him to and just to look at the bronze serpent was to be healed. Jesus is teaching that just as they looked to the statue of the serpent to be healed, so we can look at Him lifted up on the crucifixion pole, see that He took our place, gave us His place before God and His righteousness to stand in and be healed. Belief that every time the serpent of sin bites us, we can look at Jesus and be 'healed'.
3) John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son When we understand that God has always had plans for a family, then we can believe in the love of our Father, to not only desire to be Family with us, but that He pours out Grace to us as He makes a way for the family He has always wanted. That His love is so great that God came into the world in the person of the only begotten (physically born) son to make a way for us that cannot be closed. (That includes you and me). Belief that the Love of God for you is so great that He came in the person of Jesus to remove all obstacles preventing relationship between Him and you.
Is belief without surrender enough? In James 2:19 we see that the devils believe and tremble. They certainly believe but they never surrender to Jesus Lordship until they are overpowered. So, unfortunately it is not. But we can ask Him for believing, yielding hearts, outside of our own abilities when we are struggling. I have found that mostly he is waiting to help, waiting to be asked.
If we are to truly surrender our lives to Jesus, we need to have some idea of who we are surrendering to. His intention is that we grow to really know Him (this is very different to knowing about Him) John 10:14 I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are Mine, and I am known by those who are Mine.
Who is Jesus that we are surrendering to? In Isaiah 9:6 He is called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace. This is a very large description of Him, identifying in Jesus all the aspects of God.
What else is He? If you would like to, it might be helpful to take a piece of paper and list all that you know and can find in scripture.
If this is who He is, then what does that make you in Him and Him in you? Here are some of my beliefs and where I find them in scripture.
1John 4:17 In this is our love made complete, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that as He is, so also we are in this world.
My righteousness Matt 6:33, 1Peter 2:24
My health Isaiah 53:6, 1Peter 2:24
My prosperity Isaiah 55:11, 3John 2
My resurrection John 11:25, Romans 6:5
He is also love, faith, graciousness, humbleness, joy, mercifulness, peacefulness in us etc.
We begin to exist more in Him instead of the world and this happens as we surrender to Him (receive Him) and dare to believe this is who we are. John 15:4,5 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
We can also see the kind of oneness with us that God desires in Jesus' prayer in John 17:9-26 and I have found that believing this helps my heart to stay surrendered to Him.
The Holy Spirit works with us to open us up for surrender as shown in John 16:7-11 where He speaks into our hearts which produces the conviction in us that we need to surrender.
Some Christians are a bit confused over the difference between conviction and self-condemnation. Conviction results in purpose (and can be sorrowful purpose), whereas self-condemnation results in self-pity and fear. Conviction results in a change of heart and direction in life and ultimately brings us to God to fix what He is showing us is wrong in our lives. Self condemnation results in us beating ourselves up and is not of God because it makes us want to run away from Him, and He would never want that. If we run away from the only Person who has power to help, then how can we ever be changed?
Surrender and spiritual growth go hand in hand. In order to grow, we must grow closer to Jesus, and surrender all aspects of our lives to Him to let Him flow. John 7:37-39:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Surrender is not only a foundation to be activated spiritually and become a Child of God, but it is a foundation to Grow. Our heavenly Father continues to ask our permission to change what is written in our hearts (which we give as surrender) so that He can build more 'spiritual muscle' in us.
This gets easier as we practise concentrating on who He is, in our heart, and letting Him flow through us. It is possible to do this while we are engaged in every day tasks because it is an attitude of heart. It can also feel like having living water washing through us. One reason this is important is that the flow through us of who He is allows Him to impact and change the world around us. It just happens naturally. We can’t help it. But we can shut Him off by our choices and by our involvements. When you realise you have made a shutting off choice, you can just change it. Refuse to dwell on the mistaken choice, just refocus on Him and restart the flow. If you realise that the thoughts in your mind are not godly then you can start thinking about Him again and how wonderful He is. I John 1:7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have true connected fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
This realisation that Jesus is on the inside of us and the knowing of Him comes by revelation as we walk through the levels of surrender to Him that we already know. As we continue to do this we are able to surrender more to Him and grow into more of Him in our daily lives. As members of His Family, we are all going through some internal processing and changes as the result of our surrendering to Him. He is changing us and filling holes in our foundations or beliefs, and helping us to battle the fears and struggles to fully believe and trust in Him. We are also learning to totally surrender to His lordship and to understand what it means to do so.
So what does it mean? It means that we understand how to surrender to Him alone, not to others, not to circumstances, not to demonic interference and not to our own temptations, habits or wishes. It means to surrender to Him who is alive, well and living on the inside of you and me, in all His power and glory. To believe that we should do anything else but surrender to His lordship is deception and separates us from His life and what He has for us. It means that His Life inside us deals with the dark and evil temptations we naturally have. His Life is ready to pour into our spirit, changing us from the inside, day by day. All we have to do is choose to connect by surrendering. You see, the struggle is internal - it is a struggle to trust and believe, and our victory is immensely helped by 'drinking' of Him in worship, prayer and communing with Him as much as possible on a daily basis, not once a week when meeting with other Christians.
Demons love to beat us up and tease us in relation to this struggle that we all must go through. However, if our Father is encouraging us to just get back to walking with Him, then that's what you and I should do. If our Father has already made a way to deal with the struggles (through what Jesus did on the cross), then why condemn ourselves? What we can do is apologise to God for stuffing up, and 'get back on the bike' again.
We are all different and find different ways to connect with Jesus inside us. So, experiment! Search and discover new ways to connect with His peace, love and joy. Some suggestions I have are praising and worshipping Him (even if it's just in our heart rather than out loud), giving thanks to Him in our daily lives, or even praying in tongues! There are, of course, other things that can help us to connect with Him, and these are just suggestions.
Sometimes it’s a battle to find a surrender point that is the key to releasing the current area that He is dealing with in us. Part of that battle is to realise what is happening and to stay as much at peace as possible while the area is being dealt with. His work that helps the thing that is unhelpful in us to die is painful for us at times, but He makes sure that it is never too painful. I Corinthians 10:13 promises this. Those who weight lift or seriously body build have a saying – “No Pain No Gain” and it is true to a degree for those of us who wish to accept the Holy Spirit’s work in us as our personal trainer.
Remember - it is His work in us. All we have to to is co-operate! Our Father is the vinedresser, we're not. He will also continue until the fruit comes, no matter how long it takes -
Being confident of this - that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ.