“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him]. This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”
– John 3:16-21 (Amplified Bible)
“’I have come to give myself up.’
‘It is well,’ said Mother Kirk, ‘ You have come a long way round to reach this place, whither I would carry you in a few moments. But it is very well.’
‘What must I do?’ said John.
‘You must take off your rags,‘ said she, ‘as your friend has done already, and you must dive into the water.’
‘Alas,’ said he, ‘I have never learned to dive.’
‘There is nothing to learn,’ said she. ‘The art of diving is not to do anything new but simply to cease doing something. You have only to let yourself go.’”
– C. S. Lewis, Pilgrim’s Regress
I have written on this subject before, but it bears repeating.
I used the Amplified Bible for this version of John 3:16. It includes both ‘believe’ and ‘trust in.’ Often people who go to church have a vague idea that Jesus may or may not have existed 2,000 years ago. They think that their vague idea is enough for everlasting life. What Jesus wants is a relationship. He wants to be trusted. He provides the ultimate ‘trust fall.’ If He has your back, you won’t hit the ground.
The point is that we must be ‘all in.’ We have to trust Jesus in everything. When I was struggling with trying to test the waters of true Christianity, I wanted to jump into the kiddie pool. I wanted the wade around in shallow water, but, as Mother Kirk suggests, I needed to dive into the deep end of the pool.
I have heard several preachers use the illustration, and I have read it in a Max Lucado book. The story goes that a missionary was trying to illustrate the word ‘believe’ to an African tribe. They had no word in their language that was close. Then a young man, weary from hard work in the sun, sat on the porch and said that he was placing all of his weight in the chair. In other words, he was exhausted. He held nothing back. He was surrendering control of his body to the chair. The missionary then had his word for ‘belief.’
We have to let go.
As Mother Kirk said, “The art of diving is not to do anything new…”
I may have said the salvation prayer 400 times, but I did not feel the presence of the Lord until I let go.
They say that people referred to General and later President Grant’s initials as “Unconditional Surrender.” I have heard countless evangelists say that the gift of eternal life is for free. Granted, you cannot buy your way into heaven, although many have tried. You cannot work your way into heaven. Many have tried that. But it still costs you something. It comes as a result of unconditional surrender to God.
Please, Lord, take over. I tend to screw things up when I have the wheel.