Terms of Surrender

“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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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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