Jesus says that in order to live the abundant Life, we must be willing to surrender anything and everything that stands in the way of God’s Spirit working freely through us. Then, and only then, will we inherit blessings in the coming future kingdom.
Last month, we shared that it’s only through yielding and brokenness that God’s power can be seen. All self-confidence and self-dependence must be exposed, repented of, put at the Cross, and then replaced with God-confidence and God-dependence.
I can do all things [only] through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
All self-esteem (I like what I do and what I am) must be yielded and replaced with God-esteem (I like what God does through me and what He makes me). We must remember that it is not what we can do for God, but what God will do through us—if we are clean and open vessels. True life, we said, only comes through the death of self-life.
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
“We Have Forsaken All”
Again, “brokenness and yielding all” comes to mind in Matthew 19 when Jesus tells His disciples how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom from Heaven. He says “…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (verse 24) The disciples were floored by His answer and asked Him, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus responds, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Peter then says to the Lord: “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matthew 19:27)
“Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration [re-birth] when the Son of man shall sit on the Throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:28–29)
The word follow (Strong’s #190, akoloutheo) in verse 27 means “union, or in the same way or in the same likeness.” Those that “follow Him” here in this life will be the ones who will be blessed to receive a hundredfold in the coming kingdom. The word forsaken (Strong’s #863, aphiemi) in the same verse means “to lay aside, to yield up, to let go or to give up.” Jesus does not mean we are to lay aside, yield and give up everything we own, our houses, brethren, fathers and mothers. He’s not talking about our possessions or our families here. He’s talking about our own desires, our own will, and our own plans—things that often stand in the way of God’s leading. Jesus is saying that anything that is more important to us than His will, needs to be laid aside and dealt with. God’s will needs to be first in our lives.
If any man come to Me, and hate not [is willing to set aside] his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26–27)
Matthew 19 concludes with these words:
“Many that are first [here in this life time] shall be last [in the next life]; and the last [here] shall be first [there].” (Matthew 19:30)
Jesus is reiterating that in order to live the abundant Life, we must be willing to surrender anything and everything that stands in the way of God’s Spirit working freely through us. Then, and only then, will we inherit blessings in the coming future kingdom. As Matthew 16:24 says, we are to “deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him.” Then, He says, we will be blessed to sit with Him on His throne in the coming Millennium.
Scripture tells us that these “last days” just before Christ returns will be especially difficult because “men will be lovers of themselves” … they will be “boastful, proud, and unholy.” (2 Timothy 3:2) They will not serve God for His will to be done, but rather for their own needs to be met, for their own benefit and for their own glory (Matthew 7:22). Unless we continually let God’s Spirit freely point out our own sin and self, the truth we possess in our heads will remain just a “theory.” We won’t be able to genuinely pass along God’s Life (His Love, His wisdom, etc.). We can only give out what we, ourselves, possess.
An Example: Tortured for Christ
An incredible example of total relinquishment is Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who spent fourteen years in a Communist prison.
Wurmbrand was involved in the Christian underground movement. He secretly met with groups of Romanian Christians in homes, basements, army barracks, and in the woods, knowing full well what the cost of his actions could be. The Communists were determined to stamp out these kinds of Christians anyway they could, so that they could control the churches for their own purposes.
Eventually Wurmbrand and his Christian brothers and sisters were exposed and captured. Taken from his wife and son in 1948, Pastor Wurmbrand spent three years in a slave labor camp, three years in solitary confinement, and five more years in a mass cell. He was finally released, only to be re-arrested two years later and sentenced to twenty-five more years. He was let go for good in 1964. His wife was also arrested in 1948 and taken to another prison where the women were repeatedly raped, made to work at hard labor, forced to eat grass and rats and snakes, and required to stand alone for hours at a time. Their son was only nine years old at the time of their arrest. He was left to roam the streets of their Romanian city.
Many of the Christians who were taken to prison at the same time as Wurmbrand lost their faith as they were beaten and brainwashed by the Communists. Some even joined “the party” and denounced their brothers and sisters. It was a tragic and horrendous time. One prisoner said: “The human torture was beyond anything one could ever imagine or describe. All the Biblical descriptions of hell and the pain of Dante’s Inferno are nothing compared with the torture in the Communist prisons.”
Pastor Wurmbrand, however, loved God so very much that he wouldn’t let any circumstance or any emotion separate him from his Beloved. Someone once asked him, “How on earth did you resist the brainwashing?” The pastor simply replied, “If your heart is truly cleansed by the Love of Christ and your heart loves Him back, you can resist any torture… God will judge us, not on how much we had to endure, but on how much we loved.”
Wurmbrand said he was not frustrated by all the years he lost in prison because he said he saw beautiful things happen even there. He saw great saints and heroes of all kinds, much like the first-century church. “Christians could be happy there,” he said. “And the reason is: they saw the Savior in the midst of everything.” Like Moses in Hebrews 11:27, they “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”
The lesson is that if the Spirit is truly the master of the body, then God’s power is always with us, no matter what is occurring in our lives. The enemy, of course, wants to kill us with all the things that happen in our lives, but God wants to use our circumstances, no matter how difficult they are, for His glory.
In Wurmbrand’s case, after his release from prison, God enabled him to write numerous books and, eventually, he became the head of an international ministry called The Voice of the Martyrs, serving the persecuted church.
God does use everything in our lives for His glory.
Waiting on The Lord
The central purpose of the Christian life is to be totally surrendered to the Lord so that His Spirit of power can direct our lives and we can reflect Him. God’s power freely working through us is what will make us those overcomers who will inherit His coming kingdom. God promises to “give power to the faint and to them that have no might He will increase their strength.” (Isaiah 40:29) In other words, if we are open and yielded (“weak”), God will pour His Spirit of power through us.
In Isaiah 40:31 He says, “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” The word wait (Strong’s #2442) in this Scripture is a very interesting word. It not only means “to abide and adhere to over time,” it also means “to carve or etch an image into.” What this is saying is that only those who “wait” (have God’s image “carved or etched into them) upon the Lord, will be able to renew their strength. Isaiah 64:4 carries this meaning a little further:
For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him. – Isaiah 64:4
Receiving Christ’s Spirit into our spirits and being born-again (justification) is an absolutely “free gift.” But what we sometimes neglect to understand, is that sanctification will cost us our lives. (John 12:24–25) “Believing” in the gospel (justification) is essential. This is what saves us. But having a lifestyle alongside that belief (sanctification) is what proves that we are, indeed, saved!
My grace is sufficient for thee; for “My strength is made perfect [or complete] in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)