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From the Winter 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

What God Wants from You

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
Vice President of Ministry C.S. Lewis Institute

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Our Motivation for Surrender to God

  What on earth could motivate someone to make such a surrender? Paul gives us the answer when he says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God.” The mercies of God are the loving kindness and compassion of God that Paul has been describing in the preceding eleven chapters: God’s mercies in sending His Son to die for our sins, in drawing us to Himself, in forgiving our sins, in giving us eternal life, in giving us His Spirit. And this really takes us to the heart of the matter. True Christianity, as William Barclay once said, “does not think of a man as finally submitting to the power of God; it thinks of him as finally surrendering to the love of God. It is not that man’s will is crushed, but that man’s heart is broken.”  When we grasp God’s great love for us personally, seen in the mercies of God, especially in the cross of Christ, it changes something within us. It produces “an answering love,” and this answering love is grateful and desires to please the Beloved. We experience in increasing measure what Thomas Chalmers called “the expulsive power of a new affection” which displaces the love of self that dominates our hearts with love for God.  Thus surrender and obedience become willing and not compelled. We no longer think in terms of “I have to obey God” but of “I want to obey God.” And all of this is the work of the Spirit of God in our hearts.
  Surrendering to God may be likened to marriage. A marriage begins with the wedding, in which two people who love each other, “forsaking all others,” commit themselves to one another, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” That is the beginning of a relationship that is full of hope and promise. But as time passes, the relationship will be tested by temptations, trials, and challenges. Each person will have to die a thousand little deaths to self along the way and be sustained at points not by feelings but by a commitment. But as the husband and wife remain faithful to that commitment, they will experience increasing transformation and joy as the two become one, not in word only but in heart and mind.
  The life that is consecrated to God is like that. It is an exclusive, committed relationship with Someone who loves us with an everlasting love and will be faithful to us until our life’s end. It is a life of love, joy, peace, and much fruitfulness amid the temptations, trials, and tribulations of this present world. It is also a life of progressive inner transformation,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16–18)

  Such a life glorifies God and will be blessed by Christ when He returns to judge our works and distribute our rewards in the world to come.
  What about those who refuse to surrender themselves to God? In this world their lives become increasingly dominated by the spirit of the world, and they do not grow to maturity or fulfill His purposes for them. They also become easy prey for the devil and his schemes and may become an embarrassment to Christ. At the judgment they face a dreadful day of reckoning. The apostle Paul said of the Lord, “We make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:9–10).
  If even the great apostle of grace looked to the day of judgment with sobriety, it must be a very serious matter indeed for those who have been unfaithful to Christ. The purpose of this judgment will not be to determine our salvation but to evaluate our faithfulness in this life and our rewards in the next. What a tragedy it will be for believers who have not surrendered to God and lived for His glory but lived for themselves and been formed by the spirit of the world. But what a joy for those who can look into the eyes of Jesus without fear, who have eagerly awaited His coming because they loved Him, who have found perfect freedom in giving themselves to Him and His service and who delight to be with Him forever.

1. Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.
2. John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Epistles to the Romans and Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 264.
3. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; repr., San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 56.
4. William Barclay, New Testament Words (Philidelphia: Westminster Press, 1974), 23.
5. Thomas Chalmers, a sermon titled “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/spiritual-growth/the-expulsiv....

Tom Tarrants has lived in the Washington, D.C. area since 1978 and served as President of the C.S. Lewis Institute from 1998 to April 2010. Prior to coming to the Institute, he served as co-pastor of Christ Our Shepherd Church and Director of The School for Urban Mission, both based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of two books, and consults with churches and organizations seeking to develop discipleship programs and materials to strengthen the local church. Tom holds a Master of Divinity Degree, as well as a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Christian Spirituality. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Church Alliance.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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