The gospel of Christ radically changes lives, homes, and even nations for it demands death to the old life and enables believers in Christ to live in the power of a resurrection life unto God. In our last issue of Current we focused on spiritual awakenings in America when multitudes of ungodly sinners were converted to Christ. Their experience of God’s presence and power was so real to them that they became overcomers in this sinful world. Converts who come to Christ during a spiritual revival often show exceptional depth. Like deep water that is still and quiet they demonstrate a life that possesses the fulness of God’s Spirit and the graces that flow from union and communion with Christ. Through their life of surrender they wait on their God in the midst of the rush of life knowing the Lord is in control. When you enter the company of such Christians you know they truly live in the presence of God. They personify the very meaning of consecration for they are content to be set apart for God.
Sadly, it seems that kind of Christian living is not much valued today. But consecrated living is not just for past times or just for certain Christians. Every one of the Lord’s redeemed people is called to live a consecrated life. Note how Paul pleaded with readers of his epistle to the Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
In the first eleven chapters of his letter to the Romans, Paul expounded the righteousness that God provides for sinners through the life and death of His Son to save them from the wrath of God. Then in chapter twelve he argued that it is reasonable, or logical, for recipients of undeserved mercy to surrender their all to Christ as living sacrifices. Surely all Christians who delight in the love of God displayed at Calvary will gladly embrace the apostle’s rationale for surrendering their all to the Lord.
In his devotional writings James Smith asks, “And do we talk about self-denial? Do we say, ‘It is hard to give up all!’ I am ashamed to use such language, and ashamed to hear it used. What did Christ give up for us? Let that question blot out ‘self-denial’ from the Christian’s vocabulary. When you think the Gospel makes severe requisitions by requiring your all, go up to Mount Calvary and weep over such suggestions. See the blood of your Immanuel so freely gushing from a heart that never exercised towards you any emotion but love—love unspeakable—love unsought—and love for the guilty vile! Go hide your head in shame and penitence at such a thought.”
The Christian, therefore, is to offer his whole life as a living sacrifice unto the Lord. He will not have half of us; He calls us to give our all or nothing. As a newly grafted branch must be bound tightly to the vine to draw life into its limbs so believers in Christ must be tightly bound to Christ for His life to flow into them. A consecrated life is the secret to enjoying the fulness of the Lord’s life flowing through us.
We lament that many professing Christians today settle for a shallow form of Christianity. Many claim to be saved from the guilt of sin through their justification by faith in Christ while they neglect the sanctification that saves them from the power of sin. That should not be and puts a question on their testimony and on their profession of faith in Christ. When we study revivals—and we should include the book of Acts as a model of the transforming power of the gospel—we note that converts experience deep sorrow over sin and that their repentance over the lusts of the world is thorough. They declare both their freedom from the guilt of sin and their freedom from the grip of sin.
For many years it amazed me how the early church had mature Christians who could hold office as deacons and elders so soon after their conversions. That is until I heard Mr. George McConnell, the missionary secretary of the Ulster Mission Board speak at our 2010 Congress in Toronto. He told a large group of men that to watch the new converts in Nepal grow in grace was like re-reading the book of Acts. From his visits to Nepal he witnessed firsthand how God’s transforming power made men into pillars of the church, just as in the days of the Acts of the Apostles.
Another aspect of the fruit of revival is the number of people who offer themselves up for full-time Christian service. Mission boards that were so desperate for workers suddenly received more offers from candidates for service than they could handle. Churches with too few preachers soon feared they would have too many. Those dedicated preachers and missionaries have truly gone into all the world to preach the gospel. Their experience of the power of God in revival meant they were willing to obey God’s call to serve Him as living sacrifices for Christ. Consecrated men and women possess a spirit of other-worldliness. They possess a holy allegiance to God and a holy dependence on Him that sets them apart.
Today, many professing Christians unfortunately settle for a shallow experience of Christ and fail to enjoy the victory of a Spirit-filled life. They sacrifice the joys of the Lord for the pottage of the world.
It is said that the Emperor William refused a request for an audience prepared by a GermanAmerican. The Emperor declared that Germans born in Germany but naturalized in America became Americans: “I know Americans; I know Germans; but German-Americans I do not know.” Likewise, the Lord “knows” no Christian-worldlings. He calls His people to serve with total consecration. We cannot settle for hyphenated Christians who still love the world. All born again believers have ceased to be worldlings by their new birth. They are dead to the world and alive unto God through Christ. For this reason Paul exhorted the Christians at Rome, “Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
With this topic in mind for the first issue of the New Year I have asked Rev. John Wagner and Rev. Armen Thomassian to write for us on the believer’s need for total consecration to the Lord. I pray these articles will be as the Lord’s voice calling you to surrender your life unto Him.