Welcome to Leaving LaodiceaThe Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church
We have been talking about a life of total surrender or total abandonment to the Lord. We see examples of this kind of life in Scripture and in church history, but are pressed to know anyone personally who lives that way? Which begs the question: How do I surrender my life to the Lord? Or, what are the steps to total surrender? To my giving my all to Him?
These are great questions. But when you ask someone the answer, they usually respond with something like this:
Give everything to God.
Really? That’s all you’ve got for me? Ok, like what? What exactly do I surrender to the Lord? And how exactly do I go about doing that? You make it seem so easy with your pat answer, but I know it can’t be that simple.
Remember, to surrender your life to the Lord means to “yield ownership or control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our rights, our self.” And the focus of our surrender is our past, present, and future.
We are to give Him our past regrets, our present problems, and our future ambitions. This means we freely give Him our fears, our dreams, our weaknesses, our habits, our hurts, and our issues (hang-ups). In essence, we give all of who we are, good, bad, and ugly, and allow Jesus to take control.
And what do we get in return? It’s so wonderful it’s hard to put into words. But let’s start with this:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
And we’ve just scratched the surface. If you want to know more, keep listening.
One of the key requirements for having the kind of spiritual life we see in the heroes of our faith is an often neglected term: total surrender or total abandonment to God. Or, to make it personal, to be surrendered totally or become totally abandoned to Him. We see this concept in the works of Oswald Chambers and Andrew Murray and many of the other “higher Christian life” proponents of the last century. It was a major theme in the Keswick Movement that had such a lasting effect in the first half of the twentieth century. And the idea of total surrender or total abandonment to God is the foundation in the teaching of Jesus in John 15 about the vine and the branches and the art of “abiding in Him.”
But what does it mean to experience total surrender or total abandonment to God?
First, to surrender or experience total abandonment means to “yield ownership or control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our rights, our self.” This is the key that unlocks the door to the
“abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). There is no other way.
In “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers defines total surrender this way:
Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Then he gives this warning:
Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
If you desire to surrender more of yourself to Him, by all means, keep listening.
We have spent quite a bit of time exploring what it means for Jesus to be called the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29). But one question needs to be answered. If Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” including our sin, what is our natural, spiritual, and reasonable response to Him? In other words, what do we give Jesus in exchange for what He has given us? Or, what gift or sacrifice is worthy of His gift and sacrifice? And why is that even important?
In Romans 12:1, we find what the “reasonable, natural, and spiritual” response is to the Lamb of God. And it is based, not on the fear of judgment or condemnation, but the joy of His mercy. Consider these words:
I beseech (urge, beg) you therefore, brethren, by the (what) mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
But how is that done? In practical terms, how do we present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice?
The key to an overabundant spiritual life is not doing, but being. In essence, it’s not what we do for Him that matters, but what we allow Him to do through us. And this process is called abiding.
“Abide (rest, dwell, make your home) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
The answer is simple. But it’s hard to live it out daily in our lives. Join me as we explore the wonders of responding to the Lamb of God and His love for us.
As we have been discussing, the term “Lamb of God” that John the Baptist used to identify Jesus was not simple guesswork or something he made up. It was a profound, prophetic revelation given to John by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. How do we know that? Because we can trace the Lamb of God in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, clearly showing God’s intent to reveal His Son in that way all along. Let’s once again look at John the Baptist’s proclamation of the coming King.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36).
Note, this may be the first time Jesus is called the Lamb of God in the New Testament, but we see traces of this revealed in the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 4.
Consider the thoughts John the Baptist may have had right before he proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God” as he remembered how the phrase was used in Scripture:
In Genesis 4:4 we have the Lamb as a type in the firstlings of a flock slain by Able in sacrifice.
In Genesis 22:8 we have the Lamb prophesied where Abraham says to Isaac, “My son, God will provide (for) Himself a lamb for the burnt offering.”
In Exodus 12 we have the Lamb slain and the blood applied to protect from judgment.
In Isaiah 53:7 we have the Lamb revealed as a person. For the first time, we learn the Lamb would be a Man.
In John 1:29, we have the Lamb identified as Jesus.
In Revelation 5 the Lamb is magnified by all the hosts of heaven.
And in Revelation 22:1, the Lamb is glorified, seated upon the throne of God.
Let’s unpack this truth together, shall we?
We have been discussing the phrase used by John the Baptist to herald the coming of Jesus. In both John 1:29 and 36, John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God.” We have also traced that phrase throughout the book of Revelation, beginning in chapter 5. And amazingly, John describes Jesus as a “Lamb as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:7), or as a “Lamb as if slain.” But what does that phrase mean? And what are the implications? Let’s look at the text together:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:6-8).
Later in the same chapter, we see Jesus identified, once again, as the “Lamb.” Not Christ, not Son of God nor the Son of Man, not even Messiah. But simply, the “Lamb.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
But this is only the beginning. We will soon discover the identification of Jesus as a “Lamb” runs all through the book of Revelation. Did you ever wonder why? What is the Lord trying to say to us?
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the description of John, a “Lamb as if slain.”
As we look at the name John the Baptist calls Jesus in John 1:29 and 36 (the Lamb of God), and compare it to how the name of Jesus is used in Revelation, several key points quickly come to the surface. For example, when we see Jesus referred to as “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” in Revelation, it is usually associated with an attribute or characteristic of Jesus, and not as a description of His person.
In other words, John uses phrases like the “testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1:2, 9; 12:17; 19:10), or the “witness of Jesus” (Rev. 20:4), or the “patience of Jesus” (Rev. 9), or even the “faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12), to describe something associated with Jesus the person, but not as a term describing Jesus as a person.
The descriptive phrase John uses to describe Jesus in Revelation is the same phrase John the Baptist uses to introduce Him to the world in John 1:29. And that phrase is “Lamb of God” or, simply “Lamb.” Consider the following:
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6).
This is a description of Jesus the person.
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” (Revelation 6:1).
Again, John is describing Jesus as the person opening one of the seals, and not one of His attributes. And He calls Him the “Lamb”.
Take a moment and do a quick Bible search and look at how often John refers to Jesus as the “Lamb” in Revelation and then ask yourself, Why? Could there be more to this than what it seems like on the surface? And how did John the Baptist know to call Jesus the “Lamb of God”?
This is just a sneak-peek into all the Lord has for us to learn about Him in this wonderous name of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.” Keep listening to find out more.
Why do we do the things we do? That’s a great question that often leads to defending ourselves and our actions. But it was never that way with Jesus. In fact, Jesus never gave us a reason for what He did. He never suffered from the why do we do the things we do mental hangover as others often do? No, He simply did what was right and pleasing in His Father’s sight (1 Tim. 2:3). After all, one of the fundamental tenets of Jesus’ life and ministry can be summed up in this simple phrase:
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)
So when we look at some actions by Jesus that seem, in our eyes, to be out of character or somewhat questionable, we must realize we cannot judge the Son of God by the standards of fallen man. We cannot ask the Lord, “Why do You do the things You do?” As Paul said, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God (or to question His judgment and motives)?” (Rom. 9:20).
But often we find events in His Word that we, if in the Lord’s shoes, might have done differently. After all, why wait two additional days before returning to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:6)? Or why speak so harshly to a woman begging for healing for her demon-possessed daughter (Matt. 15:22-23)? Or why, when Jesus saw His disciples struggling in the storm, does it say He “would have passed them by” (Mark 6:48)? Doesn’t that seem cold to just walk on by while Your disciples struggle? But He must have had a reason, although it is not revealed to us in Scripture.
The same can be said of what we know about His relationship with John the Baptist after the baptism. On the surface, it seems a bit callous. We see Jesus “coming towards” John (John 1:29) and yet He doesn’t stop to speak to John at all. And then later, two of John’s disciples follow Jesus but John does not and Jesus never invites him to (John 1:37). Wonder why?
And then there is the statement made by Jesus about John the Baptist after those sent from John had departed (Matt. 11:7). It was almost like Jesus intentionally didn’t want John to know the wonderful things He said about Him. Again, wonder why?
Remember, it is learning how to ask these kinds of questions that will grow your experience in His Word to depths you may have never been before. So join with us as we strive together to experience His Word.
When we study Scripture, there are always some questions we want to ask those we read about. John the Baptist is no exception. In this study, we will look at some of the questions we want to ask John the Baptist about his relationship with Jesus both before, and after, the baptism. And all of this springs from the first few words found in John 1:29. Let’s set the scene, shall we:
It is now another day in the life of John the Baptist and on this day he sees the Lord coming towards him and proclaims:
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
He then continues his testimony about Jesus by saying:
“This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” (John 1:30-31).
Before we dig any deeper into what John meant when he called Jesus the “Lamb of God”, we need to address one issue in this text that, at least for me, looms like a large elephant in the room. In other words, when I read this passage, I find it hard to ignore or overlook. It raises some questions we’ll discuss in our study today and tomorrow, and these questions are simply based on this text:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him… (John 1:29).
Why did Jesus not come and talk to John? In fact, why is it never recorded in Scripture that Jesus and John met again after the baptism? John sees Jesus coming toward him and… what? Did Jesus walk on by? Did He wave and go in another direction? Or did Jesus see John and quickly turn around and head in the opposite direction? No one knows. The Scriptures are silent.
But by asking questions like these you can enter into an experience with Scripture that will provide you incredible dividends in your future Bible study for years to come. Why? Because there is a great difference between understanding Scripture and experiencing it for yourself. They are not mutually exclusive. No, one builds upon the other.
Join with me as we learn how to live in His Word in addition to having His Word live in us.
When we study the Scriptures, we often come across some strange and unique responses from our Lord to those who are struggling with doubt and worry. And one of those unusual responses is found in Exodus 14, where God says to Moses at a critical juncture in the life of Israel, “Why do you cry out to Me?” We’ll talk more about that event a bit later. But for now, remember the lessons we have learned from John the Baptist’s encounter with the nay-sayers from Jerusalem:
God is sovereign.
And as our Sovereign, He is also our Great Defender.
Therefore, if God is our Great Defender, we don’t have to defend ourselves.
In fact, to defend ourselves when that is God’s job is a slap in His face and a recognition that we don’t trust Him to do the kind of job defending us that we think we deserve. Thus, we tell Him to stand down, and we’ll take it from here. And for those of us who grew up with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Rambo, not defending ourselves seems wrong on many levels.
Today we’ll draw this truth to a close by looking at the account in Exodus 14 of Moses and his apparent crisis of faith. As a sneak peek, we’ll look at two verses, Exodus 14:14-15. Actually, we’ll focus this study more on the space between these two verses and what is obviously not recorded in Scripture. Moses cries out to God about something, but we don’t know what it is. We can make a good guess, but we don’t know for sure. Here is that account:
“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” (Exodus 14:14-15)
Would you think about the implications of God’s word to Moses and what Moses was crying to God about? Would you also resolve yourself, as a faith experiment, to trust God at His Word and see if He doesn’t shine forth like the sun to show Himself faithful?
And pray the Lord will show us how to increase our faith and trust Him with more as we see the day of His return approaching.
One of the most encouraging lessons we can learn from the way John the Baptist responded to his hostile critics was the way he rested in the reality that he belonged to God, he answered only to God, and he knew God was his great Defender. And that reality alone gave him great courage to not take the abuse personally, but use it as an opportunity to point to Jesus. Yes, always back to Jesus.
But John came to this confident realization the same way each of us can come to the same conclusion. And that’s by seeing this truth in Scripture and then trusting, with all we are, that it is true. So, how do you learn to trust Scripture? By living it out day by day, whatever the consequences, come what may.
For example, in Psalm 62:5-7, we have a perfect picture of David’s trust in the Lord, and only in Him. Let these words bring you great comfort in times of distress, as I’m sure they did John the Baptist.
My soul (inner being with thoughts and emotions), wait (which requires faith) silently (no complaining, no matter the circumstances) for God alone (and no other), (why) for my expectation (hope, refers to the cord from Rahab) is from Him (and no other). He only (and no other) is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; (therefore) I shall not be moved. In God is (present tense) my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Isn’t that amazing? Meditating and living out this truth is what can help us develop the courage and confidence in God that John the Baptist showed. And it will most certainly bring a smile to our Lord’s face when we trust Him and His Word to the point of doing our total surrender to His will, with no thought of what’s in it for us.
How the church needs this kind of confidence in Him today! We need to embrace Him in faith as our Great Defender.
Commit yourself at the beginning of this new week to double your time with Him. Why? Because as we see the chaos rising all around us, we may not have much time to waste in fruitless endeavors as we have had in the past.
Something About Us
This is a collection of the many questions I have struggled with and the answers I have found regarding the relationship between authentic faith in Christ and much of what is portrayed today as Biblical Christianity. Especially with the coming darkness looming over all of us, including the church.
Come with me. It should be a wild ride!
To find out more about us and what we believe, just continue reading…
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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”