[forthright] Life-Transforming Hope/Terms of Surrender

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 13:32:42 -0600
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Life-Transforming Hope by Barry Newton
Terms of Surrender by Stan Mitchell

COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

Life-Transforming Hope
by Barry Newton

Even though she was still single, she deliberately
abandoned the adrenaline rush of navigating
through the nightclub social chaos of chance
encounters with potential sleep-over suitors. Even
though the authorities had put some of his friends
in jail for embracing the same convictions, he
remained resolute. Their track record confirmed
they knew how to successfully massage the system
to swell their bank accounts. Nevertheless, they
had abruptly turned their backs to that lifestyle.

What could cause people to make such dramatic life
changes? Although the answer comes to us in the
form of an apostle's letter, a narrative is not
difficult to reconstruct.

On a Sunday morning long ago in Palestine, a
lifeless tomb was suddenly filled with majesty and
the power of an indestructible life. In that
incredible moment, God mercifully offered
humanity, as if on a gleaming platinum platter,
the reason to endure, the reason for repudiating
evil desires, the reason to be shaped by holiness.
At that instant, standing in that once dark and
dank tomb, Jesus possibly looked at his hands
knowing the grace of salvation was safely reserved
in heaven to be revealed at the end of time for
those redeemed by his blood.

As the years rolled by, disciples rejoiced in
retelling how God's mighty working on that
wonderful morning had created a compelling hope
leading them to reject ungodly desires, endure
suffering, and pursue holiness. Even those who had
never seen Jesus had believed in him. They, too,
were counting on what God would provide them when
Jesus would be revealed.

Pagan neighbors may have mused at the unusual
lives of Jesus' disciples. Here was a community of
people whose values were not so heavily invested
in the here and now. Perhaps they appeared to
possess something of a wanderlust for a better

Even today this story continues to unfold. With
each new disciple, God remains at work. God's
power continues to shield each precious, purified
soul in Christ through faith for that glorious day
to come.

What can cause people to live for God? What could
lead people to radically alter sinful lifestyles
in order to be characterized by self-control and
holiness? The answer lies in someone truly
grasping God's working: the grace of salvation
awaits the people of God.

Adapted from 1 Peter 1:3-21

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COLUMN: Reality Check

Terms of Surrender
by Stan Mitchell

"When or where did God ever ask sinners how they
would like to be saved?" (Charles Hodge, Gospel
Advocate, December 2002).

That's an excellent question. Who are we, after
all? Aren't we sinners, hobbled with a colossal
debt to the God of all the earth? Aren't we
destined for a richly deserved punishment of death
(Romans 6:23)? And didn't the Son of God pay for
our sin at an historically high cost? If nothing
else, the sight of Christ hanging on a rough Roman
beam should humble us!

So who are we, sinners all, to demand God's mercy
on our own terms? And who are we, who preach, to
offer terms of salvation on a basis other than
those that God has specified? What arrogance! What
presumption! Members of the church of God mock the
"five steps of salvation." Has anybody found the
Biblical alternative? Certainly men wistfully
suggest alternatives, but they are terms other
than those God laid down. To be saved, we must
still respond to the Gospel message in faith
(Romans 10:17). This faith will spark a process of
radical lifestyle change -- repentance (Luke 13:1-
5). This faith should be expressed in words
(Romans 10:9). Then one must be immersed, on this
profession of faith, in baptism (1 Peter 3:21).

Has this been oversimplified at times? Perhaps.
But the answer is to define these terms
Biblically, to teach this process, not to abandon
these principles. It makes no sense to speak in
terms of surrendering our lives to Jesus, but to
offer this surrender on our terms, not his. Or did
we mistake this process for a negotiation?

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