by Billy Graham
When I was young, I thought about those questions a lot. Then, when I was 17 years of age, I went to a meeting and heard a preacher talk about God and Jesus Christ and what Christ had done for me on the cross. The preacher said, “All of you who would like to know for sure that your sins are forgiven and that you will go to heaven when you die, I want you to stand up and come forward. If you come to the cross and repent of your sins, you can receive Christ by faith.” That night about 300 people went forward.
And I was one of them.
That night that I went forward was a changing moment in my life. I didn’t have an emotional experience-I just said, “Yes, Jesus, come into my heart and come into my life.” And He did. From that moment on, I never turned back because that empty place in my life was filled.
When Jesus comes into our hearts, God asks us to do something. The Bible says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that [you] present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that [you] may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2, KJV)
The Bible says that we are to be transformed, we are to be changed. That’s what we need today. Young and old alike, we need to be changed. We need a spiritual change, a moral change. And God calls on all of us to make that change, in total surrender to His Son Jesus Christ.
What are the terms that God lays down for us if we want change in our lives, if we want the forgiveness and peace and joy that we have never known before? God demands our total surrender to Him, and He becomes the Lord and the Ruler of our lives.
Now, in life we surrender to things all the time. When we fly in airplanes, we surrender to the pilots and the airplanes. When we have surgery, we put our trust in the doctors that they will do the right things.
In Jeremiah we read, “I know the plans I have for you, É plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) That’s what God says. He doesn’t want to condemn us. He wants to bless us and to love us and to say to us, “I will forgive you. I will change your life. When you die, you will go to heaven.” That’s what God says to us if we surrender totally and completely to Him.
But we can’t hold anything back. What are we to surrender?
1. God Asks Us To Surrender: Our Minds
First, we are to surrender our minds to God. That means not only what we think but also how we think. Some people believe that when you come to Christ, you have to leave your mind behind. But the Christian faith is not irrational. Jesus will stand the inspection of any scientist, any mathematician or any other intellectual in the world in answer to any question. Many teachers today ask, “Does it work?” rather than, “Is it true?”
And both of these questions must also be asked of the Christian faith: “Does it work?” Yes. “Is it true?” Yes.
Our minds are more than computers. Computer programs don’t get stronger the more you use them. That’s not true with our minds. Whatever we see and hear, when it is repeated, it is reinforced in our minds. And whatever is in our minds, whatever we remember, influences what we do. The Bible says, “As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7, KJV) What do you think in your heart? What are you like deep down inside?
The Bible says, “Whatsoever things are true and honest and just and pure, think on these things.” (Cf. Philippians 4:8) Is that what you think about–good things? Or do you think about things that you know are not right?
The Bible says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, NIV) Get your mind on Christ every day all day because the devil is fighting for your soul. You see, there are two forces at work inside you. One is God, and one is the devil. Don’t let the devil corrupt your mind. The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5, KJV)
2. God Asks Us To Surrender: Our Bodies
Second, we are to surrender our bodies to God. One of the great debates today is over who owns the body. Doctors, lawyers, clergy, judges, juries, all are debating the moral, ethical and legal sides of this issue. And the questions that surround suicide and abortion and euthanasia center on issues of who owns and controls the body.
Who controls your body? The Bible says that we are “the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in [us].” (1 Corinthians 3:16, KJV) Your body is God’s Temple, so if you are a Christian, your body belongs to God.
Young people today, and older people as well, face a lot of temptations when it comes to sex. God created sex. He made us to be sexual human beings, men and women.
Dr. Eugene C. Kennedy wrote in his book “The New Sexuality, Myths, Fables and Hang-ups,” that sex is being used for a whole host of reasons for which it was never intended. And that’s true.
There’s no such thing as free sex or free love. The price tag is broken relationships and broken hearts and broken bodies and broken families. From the beginning God planned that the full _expression of sex is to be within marriage.
The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers É will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV) If you have already made a mistake in that direction, ask God to forgive you and to change you and to give you power to resist temptation. He will do that. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son will cleanse you from all sin.
God cleanses away the sin in our lives so that we can start over. That’s the reason Jesus said, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7, NIV) You can start over with a new life.
Your heart can be changed. It’s changed through prayer. It’s changed by reading the Bible. It’s changed by listening to the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8, NIV)
But conviction is not enough. The Bible also says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NIV) Christ died for you to give you a new heart, a new direction, a new power.
3. God Asks Us To Surrender: Our Wills
Third, we are to surrender our wills to God. Our wills are powerful. Before Jesus healed or helped anyone, He asked, “Will you É ?”
And I’m asking you, “Will you let Jesus Christ come into your life and dominate your life and be the Lord of your life?”
“Will you?”–that’s the question Jesus asks you. The Scripture says, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17, KJV)
When you come to Christ, that’s just the beginning, and now you need to live for Him. That means that the dominant feature of your life will be love–love for people next door to you, love for people who live on your block. Whatever the color of their skin, you love them. You go out of your way to be friends with people of other races. That’s how you love.
Have you surrendered yourself unconditionally to Jesus Christ? Have you given Him your mind and your body and your will?
You just need to say, “Jesus, I want You to forgive me of my sin. I want You to fill up this empty place in my life. I want You to give me a new direction in my life. I receive You into my heart.”