A flag is a piece of cloth or similar material, typically oblong or square, attachable by one edge to a pole or rope and used as the symbol or emblem of a country. Sometimes a flag is used to indicate a situation or condition.
Today’s “Fun with Flags” flag is a popular one in that it has been used many, many times in the course of history.
However, it is NOT usually popular in its meaning and significance.
This is the “Flag of Surrender”, sometimes known as the “White Flag”.
In the world it is generally considered to be a shameful thing….THE ultimate symbol of defeat. It is always used as a last resort.
The reason this word “surrender” is on my mind today is that I’ve always wondered why we use it in the Body of Christ as a positive term when it is so detested in the world.
Many Christians, especially those raised in Christian homes, seem unaware that the Church has developed its own bewildering language since the first century.
I was an adult convert to Biblical Christianity so I wasn’t raised understanding this “secret language”. When the minister who taught me about Jesus asked me, “Are you saved?” I replied, “Saved from what?”
One of the terms that bewildered me was “Surrender to Jesus.” I highly doubted that it was even in the Bible, and to be true, that actual term is not in the Bible anywhere.
It always seemed strange to me as it symbolized total defeat since I saw the term in light of my earthly understanding of the word “surrender.” It brought to my mind that detested white flag.
This IDEA of “surrendering to Jesus”, it turns out, IS a Biblical one but if doesn’t mean what we think whenever we consider “surrender” in an earthly sense.
Many of us who were born again in the DIVISION of the Body of Christ known as “Evangelical Christianity” are familiar with the following scene. The preacher gives the altar call and people go to the front of the church building to pray to receive Jesus as their Lord. What song is being sung? “I Surrrender All”, a beautiful hymn.
While I never really thought about why I was singing that song it now makes sense to me because of something I have learned and am passing along here.
Just out of curiosity I did a word search on the words “surrender”, “surrenders”, “surrendered”, and “surrendering” in what seem to be four of the most currently popular Bible translations (KJV, NKJV, NIV and NASB).
I was surprised to find that no form of this word occurs in the King James or New King James versions and only twice does any form of the word “surrender” show up in either the New International Version or New American Standard Bible.
“He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.” (Luke 23:25 - NIV)
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 – NASB)
Curiously, while forms of the English word “surrender” aren’t in the New Testament many times, the same Greek word (“paradidōmi”) used in the two verses quoted above IS used multiple times. The word basically means “to yield up, entrust, commit, or deliver”.
There is a DIFFERENT meaning to the word “surrender.” It doesn’t have to mean utter and degrading defeat.
John the Baptist portrays this other meaning to this idea when he speaks about Jesus coming:
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
He continues to communicate this when he later (referring to Jesus) says:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
When I asked the man who led me to Jesus “Saved from what?” he lovingly and patiently explained to me that Jesus could save me from my sins, from sin as a power and from eternal death.
The Bible is clear about how that happens:
“But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)
When a person truly comes to Jesus he doesn’t just repeat some words he doesn’t understand that someone says for him to say. In order to be saved, the person MUST understand that he is asking Jesus to SPEND all He gave to PURCHASE him.
Otherwise he’s just saying some words. They have to MEAN something.
In this case we asked Jesus to PURCHASE us. When you think about it…that’s a VERY strange thing for a person to do.
Why would anyone do that?
We do it because we recognize that we are less than Jesus and that
He is GREATER than we are.
We do it because we recognize our own weakness and that He is STRONG.
We do it because we eventually come to understand that there are some things that we are powerless to change or fix or deal with but that HE is all-powerful and loving.
And so, we SURRENDER to Him – not in defeat….we yield to Him in our recognition of His greatness and power.
This is a different kind of surrender. THIS kind of surrender is a GOOD thing.
This is a willful yielding to a benevolent King in recognition of HIS ability to live His life through us.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
When we learn to live out that initial yielding by consistently allowing Him to live THROUGH us we get to experience the sensation of HIS life that He has always wanted us to experience.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him (literally, “entrusts himself to Him) should not perish but have everlasting life (“perpetual, never-ending, here and now ‘zoe’ life from God).” (John 3:16)
We say words like “eternal life” and we don’t really grasp their true meaning. I expect I will be learning until my dying breath. We think “eternal life” is synonymous with “unending time in heaven” and, surely, that is part of it.
However, “eternal life” started for us Christians the INSTANT we were placed in to Jesus when we prayed to receive Him as our Lord. We have, since that moment, had access to the life of Jesus in our lives.
“Eternal life” isn’t a thing or an unending period of time.
Eternal life is a Person!
Listen as Jesus speaks to His Father about Himself:
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’” (John 17:1-3)
God IS eternal life and that eternal life lives inside the human spirits of Christians.
We must decrease so He will increase in us. This is an on-going surrender that reflects the continuation of the initial yielding we did the day we prayed for Jesus to be our LORD and not just our Savior.
God’s intended result? That we be PERFECT.
Jesus praying to His Father during the VERY short time He was on the earth:
"I do not pray for these alone (referring to those who already believed in Him at that time) , but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (EVERY Christian since then who has verbally proclaimed Jesus as Lord) ; that they all may be one (God intends for us to not be divided in any way AT ALL), as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made PERFECT in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)
The word “perfect” in verse 23 does not mean that we would look flawless or perform flawlessly. It means that we would be COMPLETE.
Jesus COMPLETES those who entrust themselves….those who surrender…to Him.
I hope you have enjoyed “Fun with Flags” with me today.
I pray that we will embrace our surrender to Jesus, “the author and finisher (completer) of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2)
He started it. He WILL complete us.
“….He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)
I will end this article with some of the words to the song "I Surrender All" - the song to which many Christians have "walked the aisle" to...as they went forward to receive Jesus as their Lord.
All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence daily live.
I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior. I surrender all.
("I Surrender All" is a Christian hymn, with words written by
American art teacher and musician Judson W. Van DeVenter (1855–1939), who subsequently became a music minister and evangelist. It was put to music by Winfield S. Weeden (1847–1908), and published in 1896.)