Have You Surrendered?

31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Many people are fighting a war of resistance against the kingdom of God. They are attracted to the Lord Jesus and His call on their lives, but there is something within them that wants to keep distance between them and God. Many are afraid of the changes that becoming a Christian will cause. Yes, there will be changes in your life when you surrender to the King of Kings. But what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It is time to sit down and think through your options. There is only one option. The option of surrender! How long are you going to keep fighting against King Jesus? What are the terms of surrender that He asks? An unconditional surrender is what is needed! You must give up everything you have to Him to be all that you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender completely all that you are and all that you have can He begin to work in your life to transform you into His image.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was told by his commander to fight a guerrilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines. His name was Hiroo Onoda and his commander’s strict orders were that he was forbidden to die by his own hand and they were to continue the fight until Japanese forces came back for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villager’s cows for meat. It was at one such time that they found a note left by a local resident, appealing them to come and surrender for the war had come to an end two years ago. The soldiers took it to be a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth that the world was at peace with mistrust and unbelief. They carried on killing and wounding the islanders whom they saw as the enemy. In September 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers, without a word to the others, sneaked off during the night and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak-willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old. For nineteen years Onoda and the remaining soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They believed that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island.

Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October 1972, 51-year-old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties but he evaded them all. In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still, Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and that he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. Onoda formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for the crimes he had committed under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero’s welcome. His memoirs were entitled, “No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.”

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a lost cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he had listened. If only his countrymen from Japan had gone earlier to find him, so many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured by many because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been suffered in your family because you have been unwilling to yield to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace.

Keith Thomas

The Holy Spirit’s Work in Transforming Peter

We are meditating on the drama the night before the crucifixion of Christ, and especially God’s work in Peter to prepare him to be strong in faith and trust in Christ. He had to be broken of his own strong will. When we are confident that we have it all together, we are vulnerable to attack by our enemy, Satan. Paul wrote about this when he said, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Peter would be a leader and a model to those around him, so God had to deal with his overconfidence by putting him through a trial, i.e. a test that would strengthen him when he was restored to dependence on Christ. After walking with Christ for more than forty years now, I have found that God is at work in our lives (Philippians 2:13) to transform us and make us more like Himself. Paul talks about this process as something that starts slowly and increases with time as we are obedient to the Spirit of God. As this happens, we reflect His glory, and our lives have a transforming effect on those around us as well.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Greek word metamorphoō is the word that is translated with our English word “transformed.”  It means “a change of place, condition or form. To transform, transmute, to alter fundamentally. Used of spiritual transformation, it is an invisible process in Christians. This change takes place during our lives in this age.”[1] This is the ongoing training that Peter was still experiencing even just before the crucifixion. Henry Ward Beecher put it this way: “Happiness is not the end of life; character is.” Once we become Christians, God is at work in our lives to make us into people of character, and our character is measured by our responses to life’s trials and difficulties. God is determined that Peter will be fruitful, not in his abilities but totally reliant on His Lord. It is the same with all of us who follow Christ. D.L. Moody once said, “Character is what a man is in the dark.” What kind of things is God using in your life this day?  Do you see any testing and revealing of your character?

Peter was likely scared. He had no way of knowing if these were his last hours. He displayed great courage to even be in the courtyard of the high priest, but surely there were questions in his mind as to why Jesus had allowed himself to be arrested. He had witnessed the power of Christ when all the Roman soldiers in Gethsemane had been put on their backs at just a few simple words of Christ. Why didn’t Christ run? When John and Peter followed Jesus to the palace of the high priest, Peter, perhaps, thought that maybe he could be a witness for Christ at any trial that would take place.

Now, at the high priest’s palace, Jesus was taken first to the residence of Annas, who began to question Christ, hoping to get something from Him, i.e. to find some charge with which to accuse Christ at the trial before the Sanhedrin, the ruling seventy elders, as soon as it was light. The law said that there could not be less than twenty-three members of the Sanhedrin to try a capital case, and Annas knew that his son-in-law Caiaphas was rounding up that number to hold the court proceedings. It was also against the law to try a person while it was yet dark. The whole arrest and court proceedings of Jesus was a travesty of the justice system, but God had allowed His Son to go through such things in order to show us that He can sympathize with us in all the injustice that the believer in Christ will go through, and yet not retaliate. The test for Peter, though, was just ahead when he was asked to testify to his knowing of Christ. I pray that you, also, will stand the test.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 61, Peter, the Broken Disciple (Luke 22:54-62). Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 3565 Metamorphoō, page 1651.

What is the Rapture of the Saints?

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV).

There are some Christians who do not believe that there will be a rapture of the saints. I don’t know how they get around the plain understanding of these verses. Sure, I agree with them that the word rapture is not found in the Bible. The word Rapture is a word we use to describe the church, the people of God, being caught up to heaven. The English word comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. The Latin word rapere is from the original Greek word, harpazō, translated as “caught up” in theKing James Version and English Standard Version, as in the passage above. Harpazō means: “to strip, spoil, snatch. To seize upon with force; to rob. It is an open act of confiscatory violence…to snatch or tear away, yank away, pluck out of, remove by swiftly and aggressively grasping.”[1] There is coming a time when the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (how those that have refused and scorned His grace and act of love will tremble), and at that instant we will be snatched from this earth and changed as we are gathered together to be forever with Christ. It goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the change in our nature:

“in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

This word, changed, what does it mean? That which is on the inside, the real you, the character that God has been working on throughout your life, will someday be revealed. Our new bodies will not be the same as our old nature that we inherited from Adam; Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). It will no longer be perishable but imperishable (15:53). We won’t all sleep; there will be some who are transformed instantly without going through the death process. This is the rapture or being caught up, whichever word you wish to use. When Christ comes, in a flash, in the batting of an eye’s time, we will be changed from having a perishable body to being clothed with an imperishable body (Verses 51-52).

…the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21 Emphasis mine).

Isn’t this your longing and desire, to be like Jesus?—I hope it is. What a wonderful thing. This word that is translated transform is the Greek word Metaschēmatizō. It is a construction of two Greek words. Meta means a change of place or condition, and schēma meaning shape, or outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something, refashion, reshape.[2] There is a rapture of the saints at the coming of Jesus, a transformation. That which is on the inside will be revealed—and it will be glorious:

2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG publishers. 773 Harpazō.

[2] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Page 1651.