As part of my devotional routine for the new year, I committed to read through some of E. Stanley Jones’ sermons. For those who don’t know, E. Stanley Jones (1884 – 1973) was a missionary to India, and an evangelist, apostle, author of twenty-nine books, and was elected Bishop in the Methodist Church, but resigned before he was consecrated. He was also friends with both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi. He was perhaps the most well-known evangelist until the rise of Billy Graham.
I was reading this morning from the sermon entitled The Center of the Christian Faith is the Cross, and in the sermon, Bro. Stanley deals with the issue of self-surrender, and I was terribly convicted as I read the text. I thought I might share a few of the brilliant nuggets of truth with you (in the hopes that I might not be alone in my conviction). Here is what Bro. Stanley had to say:
“The biggest place of the nullification of grace is at the place of the un-surrendered self. That nullifies the grace of God more than anything I know, because it moves in and says, ‘I am God. I don’t need to take the grace of God; I’m God, and I’m the center’.”
“Many a man who goes into the ministry gives up everything to be a minister except the minister. Many a missionary goes out across the seas and gives up everything to be a missionary–everything except the missionary. The self is still there, watchful of its position, place and power.” (May I say, “Ouch!”?)
“Peter said, ‘Lord, we have left everything to follow thee what do we get?’ The fact that he asked, ‘what do we get?’ showed he hadn’t left everything. He had left his fishing boats, father, mother, brothers and sisters, occupation–everything except the self…Why did he put that last? ‘Yea and his own self also…’ Because that is the last thing we ever give up–houses and lands, and occupation, mother, father, brother, sister, everything goes. But the un-surrendered self is the last thing we ever give up. And we are constantly tripping over the un-surrendered self.”
“It isn’t a question of if you would rather be crucified or not. You will be crucified. The question is if you will be crucified with Christ; you will have purpose in it, meaning in it, goal in it, resurrection in it and future in it! Or, would you rather be crucified like the impenitent thief upon the cross–a crucifixion that has no meaning except deeper and deeper darkness. So we are all hanging on a cross–some with Christ, some on the cross of their own conflicts and their own inherent unhappiness. So don’t think that you will escape the cross. But here is a cross–which when you take it–has life in it.”
“Everyone of us is a mess outside of Jesus, and inside of Jesus, everyone of us is a message. You then have destiny, meaning, goal.”
Brother Stanley, in quoting the Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20, says, “…’the life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me’. I am still there and He is living His life in me and through me and we are on a cooperative plan. I supply willingness and He supplies power and we get along wonderfully together. There is no hypocrisy. The self is still there. It is still there but as long as Jesus has that helm and He’s Lord and the self is subservient, it is wonderful.”
“Who loved me? Who loved me? And if He loved me, I can love myself, too. I can love myself for loving Him. I can say, ‘You are a sensible man. You have put your faith in the central place for you have placed it in the Son of God. You are wise in that you chose the highest. You have the only sensible thing that was ever done when you laid yourself at His feet and said, ‘here I am. Take me as I am make me over’.”
“Now just as my fingers are rooted in the palm of my hands, all the sins that we deal with are rooted in the un-surrendered self. Why do we lie? Because the self thinks it will get the advantage. Why are we envious and jealous? Because the self doesn’t want anybody to get ahead of it. Why are we bad tempered? Because of the un-surrendered self. Why are we impure? Because the self things it will get some enjoyment. Why are we gloomy? Because the self is pouting. These things are the fruit; the un-surrendered self is the root. These are the symptoms. The un-surrendered self is the disease. Don’t deal with the symptoms. Go to the root. Go to the un-surrendered self and say, ‘You’ve got me–I’m surrendering now’.”
“I don’t know what you are feeling and you may ask, ‘Is this done (surrendering the self) once and for all or do you have to do it daily?’ It is both. You give yourself once and for all. But there are little ‘alls’ that you have to surrender daily. I believer I gave Him my all, but I find a lot of little alls I have got to let Him have. Whether it is the once and for all–the big all that you have to surrender–or for these little alls, I don’t know but I think you’d like to end this meeting on your knees…Those who want to surrender themselves, would you come and meet me here at this place of prayer and we will have a prayer together and close the meeting on our knees. Will you come?”
I could only say, “Wow!” as I finished reading the sermon. I know I’ll be processing it throughout the day, and I hope I’ll be looking for ways to surrender this un-surrendered self in all those little ways today. I think I’ve got my work cut out for me…but, then there lies part of the problem. I should let the Holy Spirit do the work. It’s not for me to do. That’s part of the surrender I must make. So simply, yet so hard.
Until next time, keep looking up…