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Absolute Surrender

Wes Peppers
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What are the keys to a deeper walk with God? How can I make a complete surrender to Him in everything? How do I allow Him to direct my every step? Just how important is it to do this? Come and see just how much He longs to fill you with His Holy Spirit and how possible and powerful it will be when He does.

Presenter

Wes Peppers

Pastor, Traverse City & Kalkaska, Michigan

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Conference

Recorded

  • August 4, 2016
    3:30 PM
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Father, we thank you so much for this opportunity to be here together. Thank you for those, Lord, who have come to ASI to be revived and renewed.  We want to ask Lord that your Spirit would guide and direct our steps.  Draw us close to you, we pray.  Open our eyes to the truth, open our eyes to our need, open our eyes to Jesus.  May the Holy Spirit today convict us and change us, challenge us, revive us, strengthen us, and Lord, call us to surrender. So we ask Lord Jesus that your presence would be here stirring our hearts, and we come in Jesus' name. That all God's people say, amen.

 

A person would have to be a fool not to know and understand that we are living in the final events of US history. Would have to be a fool.  But believe it or not, there are certainly fools upon this earth are there not and the Bible tells us, in 2 Peter 1:19 “and so we have the prophetic word,” what friends? “confirmed” it says, that which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and morning star rises in your hearts.”  So Scripture says that prophecy was given to us as a confirmation, as a what, everyone? As a confirmation that God is guiding his church. God is guiding his people. God is guiding us individually.  Aren’t you thankful for that today?  God doesn't leave us in the dark. He doesn't leave us blind. Are you grateful for that?

 

So the Bible says that we have the prophetic word confirmed, it confirms to us that the Scripture is true, that we're on the right track.  Now I want to say this today that the message which the Seventh Day Adventist Church has proclaimed for the last hundred fifty years, are no longer prophecies for the future but they are fulfillments in the present. If you have watched, friends, in the last ten years, we see that our message is being fulfilled just like we're told it was going to be.  You know, twenty, thirty years ago, we had little flashes here and there of prophecy being fulfilled and prophecy was definitely fulfilled at the beginning of our movement. But in the last ten years, friends, we have seen the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and specific prophecies in the book Great Controversy being fulfilled right before our very eyes. How many of you have seen that?  We've seen that and we're going to look at some of those things.  So we are no longer waiting for the final prophecies to happen. We are now watching them unfold, in this generation. And yet we find that so much of the church is asleep! Maybe some of us here are asleep. You may think, “I'm not sleeping now”, but you might be asleep by the end of this talk. I hope not.

 

So I want to go through some very recent activity in the news and that's going to lead us into our talk on surrender. September 26, 2015, TIME magazine puts out this issue called, The New Roman Empire, The Global Reach of Pope Francis.  Isn’t that interesting?  September 2015, Christianity Today wrote an article: “Within a few centuries the pope has gone from anti-Christ to Brother in Christ for a lot of Protestants.”

 

Now friends I have a whole slew of things that I won't share today but I'm just picking some of the, some of the biggest ones. You remember last year, September, Pope Francis marched himself down the aisle of the United States Congress and stood and addressed Congress for the first time in our nation's history and he made this statement, and he called for “a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States and this Congress have an important role to play” notice what it says, “now is the time for courageous actions” and what? Strategies. Very interesting.

 

Compass Magazine wrote following that visit.  It said, “Today, September 24th 2015, will go down in the annals of history as the day which the tide shifted.  Never in the history of the Republic has a … any other religious leader addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress.  In his approximately fifteen minute speech, Pope Francis moved many members of Congress to tears as he invoked the need to listen to the voice of faith while addressing many controversial issues.  So Compass Magazine made the point that prophetically in our nation the tide did what friends? It shifted and we have seen that take place.

 

R&H 1886, “This is the religion which Protestants are beginning to look upon with so much favor and which will eventually be united with Protestantism. This union will not, however, be affected by a change in Catholicism, for Rome never changes. She claims infallibility. It is Protestantism that will change.  The adoption of liberal ideas on its part will bring it where it can clasp the hand of Catholicism.” Now let me ask you a question today. Have we began to see Protestantism look with favor, yes or no? Oh, beyond a shadow of a doubt!

 

Notice this, Testimonies Vol. 5, p.451. It says, “Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this three-fold union, our country will repudiate every principle of its constitution as a Protestant and Republican government.”  Is that happening today?  “And shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan, and that the end is near.”

 

Do you suppose today that we're at that point? What do you think? Are we on the edge of the marvelous working of Satan?  Do you believe that? Today, I just saw an article, yesterday I think it was, that the Temple of Satan is launching afterschool programs in multiple cities, in fact they already have nine in major U.S. cities, like Los Angeles and Atlanta and D.C. They're launching afterschool programs to actually counter the good news programs that Christianity has for kids who need an afterschool program. If you go to the Internet. Just google that, just Google “satanic afterschool programs” …pop up all over the news. Very interesting. Satan is getting bolder and bolder.  What do you think? He's about ready to reveal himself in the flesh.

 

Now in 1948, Billy Graham said, “The three greatest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity are communism, Roman Catholicism, and Mohammedanism.” or Islam.  Isn’t that interesting? That's what Billy Graham said in 1948. But guess what he says now. Do you know what he says now? He says, “I found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of Orthodox Roman Catholic.”   That’s what he says.

 

Paul Crouch, who founded Trinity Broadcasting, he said, “I am eradicating the word Protestant from my vocabulary. It's time for Catholics and non-Catholics to come together as one.“

 

Rick Warren said, “Protestants, as a people, have a long history of heresy.  The time for reconciliation is now in order to ensure a full and dogmatic transition into the folds of the Church.”  How many of you find that interesting?  It's coming together like never before.

 

July fifth, last month, 2016, 300 denominations met in Munich, Germany, for an ecumenical gathering, trying to tear down those barriers.  Five hundred years of division is enough, unity is possible. German Y.M.C.A. leader, Gerhard Pross said, “The division amongst Christians in Europe is a wound.  But it does not have to be open forever… 500 years are enough.”

 

If you remember Tony Palmer, remember that, he was the Anglican bishop who died. He made comments like, “the Protestant Reformation is over. Protestantism is spiritual racism” he said, if you remember that statement. Google it. It's there. He said, “Protestantism is spiritual racism”, calling for an end.

 

Just last month also, there was a movement, I don’t know if you heard about this, to gather one million Christians in Washington DC, and call for unity for Protestants, evangelicals, and Roman Catholics. And I find this very interesting friends. They were calling for one million people and Pope Francis was to give a video address to this group of people, calling for unity and getting rid of religious division, which I'm all for unity, Amen?  And I want to confess today that I'd be ready to unite with Pope Francis today if he would allow scripture to be the supreme… unity… willing to follow the whole truth of the Bible.  However, Pope Francis believes that is dangerous fundamentalism and that we have to stomp out fundamentalism.

 

Let me make this point real clear.  Right now, ISIS is considered fundamentalist because they cling to the extreme views of their faith. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, you believe that the Bible is the ultimate source of truth and authority for the Christian. It's a revelation of God's will for man, you're considered a fundamentalist, OK?  ISIS are called terrorists. Eventually let me tell you, mark my words, another group of people on the earth who cling to the Bible, and the Bible only, who will also be viewed as terrorists. That's where the stage is being set for, are you with me.  The whole deal with ISIS is being staged so that we’ll be next. Mark my words.

 

Now. Now watch this friends. You may not have known this. You may have known this. At that session, a couple weekends ago, there was some kind of sweltering heat that came and 400 people roughly got… and they actually had to close the event just shortly before Pope Francis gave his address to the crowd of people. Now I think that that's a fulfillment, if you read Revelation Chapter seven, there’s something that says something about there's four angels holding back the winds of strife. Are you with me? And I believe that God in His mercy is holding those things back. Are you with me, friends?

 

Now just about three days ago, August 1, 2016, a couple of weeks ago, there was in France, ISIS burst into a Roman Catholic Church and killed a priest, actually cut his throat. I don’t know if you saw that in the news. Shortly after, three days ago, this is from TIME magazine, Muslims went by the droves across France, went and attended a Catholic mass to show support and that they were making a statement that they are not like those extremists that are going about killing like ISIS. They attended a Catholic mass.  There’s a picture right here, some Muslim brethren there with a priest. Three days ago this happened.

 

Now if you remember what Billy Graham said of Christianity or of communism, Roman Catholicism and Mohammedanism, but now, what are those two beginning to do also? Not only is Protestantism and evangelicalism coming together with Roman Catholicism but you also have now Islam beginning to unite under the banner of Roman Catholicism. This is very interesting friends, this is very interesting. So once again friends, so that which Seventh Day Adventists have been proclaiming for 150 years is now coming to pass as present truth. Are you with me friends?  It’s no longer future, we’re no longer preaching it future tense! We’re now preaching it present tense. Are you with me?

 

So many people today are asleep. The church today seems to be more asleep and more satisfied with the status quo than it ever has been before. It's Laodicean Church, that’s right. It’s Laodiceanism in action and so my question today is this. Would the real Adventists please stand up? Who are we as a people? Amen, there are some folks standing! That was rhetorical but thank you very much. Amen! Why is it? Are we losing our identity as a peculiar people today? Is that a possibility? What do you think? Notice this statement here: Why is it that God’s church is so asleep? Why is it that his people are not rising up to proclaim the truth?  And I'm not just talking about the truth about Roman Catholicism, I'm talking about the truth of Christ and His righteousness, and His mercy, and His call to the final people, the final generation of the earth, to come to Him before He returns.

 

Notice this, Great Controversy, p.588 says, “The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable.”  That was written in, one hundred years ago… “Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism.” Prophecy tells us that there is a shaking coming, friends. There is a shaking and I believe that it's possible that it's already begun. And there will be many, even from our own ranks that are going to be swept away into deceptions that are coming upon the world.

 

Notice this statement by Robert Atkins.  He says, “The truly righteous are diminished from the earth and no man takes it to heart. The professors of religion of the present day, in every church, are lovers of the world, conformers to the world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers after respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ but they shrink from even reproach.”  Does that fit our generation?  “And did they know it and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas they cry, “We are rich and increased with goods and stand in need of nothing.” That's not talking about the world, dear friends. That's talking about God's people. It's talking about his Church.

 

Here's another statement from the Great Controversy. She says, “There is another and more important question that should engage the attention of the churches of today. The apostle Paul declares that, “all who will live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer” what?  “Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber?”  Do we have any persecution in America? Very little, very little. “The only reason is that the church has conformed to the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition.”

 

That ought to cut to our hearts, dear friends.  Because let me tell you we can stand and say that it's the Church who’s awakening no opposition, the Church who's not suffering any persecution. But if you're not being… I told yesterday, last night, if you came here to be comfortable, this is not the seminar for you. If you're not being persecuted to some degree, and this is personally, then this description would fit you and me.

 

“The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of persecution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will be rekindled.” GC, p.48.

 

Now that's not something we desire, is it? Not something we want, not something we're pushing for, and I don't want you to get the wrong idea here. I'm not saying we need… persecution. I'm not saying that at all. But what I am saying, is that because of the lack of persecution, the reason is because we are not living the lives that God has called us to live, and I got one finger pointed at you and four back at myself today. OK?  So I'm not coming, I'm not speaking down to you. I'm speaking to myself. You must know this.

 

So we have begun to lose this identity as God’s peculiar people. We have blended and the sad thing is, we don't realize how. I don’t always understand the how’s of it. But the Lord begins to reveal things to me as I spend time with Him in prayer and He begins to rebuke me and my eyes begin to be open. I pray that our eyes would be open.

 

So we’re going to talk a little bit now about Absolute Surrender.

 

I believe today more than ever, the Lord is looking for a people on the earth that will so surrender to him that he can entrust them with anything. Amen? Whether it be suffering, whether it be persecution. You know it used to be that Adventists were a people of the Book! Many Adventists today don't know their Bibles. Many Adventists today are not spending time with God on their knees. Many Adventists today shrink from persecution, they shrink from responsibility. How many of you know that’s being… that you’re experiencing it, you’re seeing it and every year it’s growing and we are losing…

 

So 5 Keys to Absolute Surrender.

 

I want to make this statement.  We're going to look at five things today.

 

The only true way to truly reach absolute surrender is to absolutely experience the righteousness of Christ…

 

We’re going to look at it in its fullness today. I want to have absolute surrender how about you. I want to experience in fullness the righteousness of Christ. How about you? So I hope today that we’ll be willing to receive whatever the Lord says to us. How many of you will be willing to do that?

 

All right, go with me in the Bible to 1 John 2. And this is a passage we've read as Adventists hundreds of times. You've probably heard dozens, if not, maybe even one hundred sermons on this verse.  It was a verse that I wanted to kind of take a look at as the catalyst for our study this afternoon. First John 2:15-17. Oh I should've marked it better. Here we go. First John, chapter two verses, it should be fifteen and seventeen, forgive me. It says, “Do not love” the what? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world and the world is passing away and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides” for how long? It says “he abides forever” right?

 

So if I were to ask you the question today: What does it mean to not love the world? What would you say?  Give me some answers. Nice and loud.  OK, he who does the will of God. What else? OK, Put God first. Less shopping? OK… It’s a great answer. What else?  Ah? Pride. OK What else? Putting others first. Be totally surrendered. It's a great answer. Anyone else? Ah? OK so denying yourself the things of this world, right? OK, not worrying about… Alright.  So there's lots of different ideas and answers that people might give for the question, “What does it mean to not be of the world?”

 

And so many of us have this concept of not being a part of the world in the sense of, we have to tighten our belts. We have to put on our boxing gloves. We have to eat less cheese. We have to, you know, not drink any dairy. We have to refrain from all the media and all these things. And the more that we of those things we can give up the less we become like the what? Like the world. How many of you have had this, this concept you know, let’s just be honest, because I have, right? Is it bad to eat less cheese? No. Or is it bad to do all those things? No. I'm not condemning or promoting eating cheese.  I’m just using it as an example because that's one that we all talk about and know about, OK? But the point is: It’s that we often think that there are sins that we must resist in order to not be like the world. Yes? There are worldly things that we have to give up in order to not be like the world. Yes or no? But there's a flip side to that, that we rarely get and we rarely hit on and we get the first part pretty good. We get this other part pretty well.

 

So to not love the world, every human being is going to love something. Aren't they? Aren’t we? Yes or no? And there's only room for one love in your heart. Yes or no? You're either going to love the world, or you’re going to love who? God. Because no man can have two masters. So the reality is that the way that we achieve this idea of not loving the world is not trying to resist the world.  And don’t misunderstand what I’m saying by that.  I'm not saying that we do, that we partake of the world, OK? But it's not trying to resist, but it's simply turning our backs and loving Jesus more.  Does that makes sense? Because when we're in the flesh, when we're not converted or when we’re partially converted, there's a love for the world that's in our hearts, yes or no? And there's a love that reigns there and it's the flesh and we can't help ourselves. And that's the reality. We might as well be honest about it. We can't help ourselves. As fallen human beings, we love sin, don’t we? And the only way to remove the love of sin out of our hearts is to have more of the love of Christ. Because your heart can only hold so much love. Are you with me? And if we can focus ourselves on loving Christ more and experiencing more of his love as his love fills our hearts… the love for what? for the world.  Does that makes sense? Yes or no?

 

And so when the Bible says, “Do not love the world”, what it's really saying is, love Jesus supremely. Love Jesus to the place and to the point where there is no room in your heart for the love of the world. Does that makes sense? It doesn't mean to fight against the world, and to resist this, and to resist that, and to refrain from this. It means to be free in Christ and to receive all the things by faith and by grace that he has for us so that there's nothing left for that.  How many can say Amen? That's the experience that we need but that's the experience that we so often fail in experiencing. Why? Because we're not willing to yield to Christ. We're not willing to yield all.

 

Now let's keep going. I'll come back to that, sister, it's a good question. So we're going to look at Five Keys, remember? Key number one is that slavery to Christ's righteousness must be, what friends? They're going to be five “P’s” just so you know where we're going. Five “P’s”. It must be what? Preferred over the slavery of the world’s unrighteousness. We must have a desire. We must prefer, we must make the conscious choice to choose the righteousness of Christ, to choose the love of Christ over the love of the world.  That's step number one.  What is it everyone? It is to choose Christ's righteousness over what?  The love of the world.  It sounds very simple but it's often a choice we don't make.

 

Now, you may have come here, “Oh I hope he gives me some magical points that are going to tickle my ear and something I've not heard before, something I haven't done before.”  But let me tell you what, probably, it's probably the case that what you have always heard is really what you need.  But Adventists are masters of hearing all kinds of truth and not carrying it out in their lives.  And we always want to hear more. We want to hear the next thing that's going to tickle my ear or the next pastor is going to bring out some new cool thing from the Scripture. We’re masters at this. But we have failed in the basics of Christianity. We have failed in the fundamentals of faith. It's just the truth.

 

So a man or woman may often have a measure of the power of the Spirit, but if there is not a complete measure of the Spirit in the life, if we have not been born again, if we have not had a total surrender, he or she will not help people to a higher standard of life other people. When we pass away, a great deal of what we've accomplished in life, in this life, will also pass away. Too many Adventists have had near-death experiences. Too many Adventists have had near-death experiences. What does that mean? That means we have almost died to self. We have almost died to everything, but not quite. That's right. That's right.  We have to meditate on the cross.

 

Go with me to 1 John 3. So the first point is that it must be what? You guys are so quiet. It must be what? It must be preferred or chosen, right?

 

Two, is that righteousness must be pursued more than anything else in life.  Go with me to first John Chapter three, verses one through three. He says this, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons or the children of God. Therefore the world does not know us because it does not know him. Beloved now we are children of God and it has not been yet revealed what we shall be but we shall know that when he is revealed, we shall be like Him for we shall see him as he is, and everyone who has this hope in him, Christ, does what?  Purifies himself just as he is pure.”

 

You know, a big problem with us today is that we do not pursue righteousness. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Righteousness simply means a right standing before God. That's all it means and it means to do right, to be right. We do not pursue righteousness more than anything else in this world. We just don't!  In fact we often pursue it less than anything else and anything else ahead of it, don't we? We often are satisfied with a little bit of Jesus and not the whole Jesus.  We’re often satisfied with part of the kingdom of heaven but not the fullness of it. We’re often satisfied with knowing that we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit and not the power of the Holy Spirit… and therefore we become weak. We are weak Christians and the world sees it and we know it. And we’re giving in to temptation. But the Bible says that everyone who has this hope in him, does what? Purifies himself. That means that we are willing to take the step to cut off whatever is in our life that we know is separating us from his righteousness. Jesus said, If your eye causes you to sin, do what? Pluck it out. If your hand causes you to sin, do what? Cut it off. Now, do you suppose that that would be quite painful, yes or no?

It would be quite painful, wouldn't it. And so sometimes the things that are in our lives that need to be cut off so that righteousness can be pursued are going to be painful. It might be a relationship. It might be a job. It might be a house. It might be any number of things, any number of things that are causing us to pursue that of the world more than pursuing Christ. And Christ says, “Cut it off.”  And let me tell you what, friends. Nobody can tell you what that thing is except Christ and nobody can know what it is except you. And right now there might be things racing through your minds that God has been convicting you about for years.

 

My father, all of the Seventh Day Adventists in my family are first generation Adventists, including myself. There's about six or seven of us. My sister was baptized last year.  Last week, my father accepted Christ for the first time in his life and my dad was crying so bitterly. I could hardly understand him. I've never heard my dad sound like that before in his life. But he would say to me, “Tell me how to receive Christ.” He was at a crisis in his life and he says, “God's been tugging on my heart for years, He's been tugging on my heart since I was a teenager and I've been resisting him.” He says, “But I don't want to resist him anymore. I want to run to him.” My dad was pursuing righteousness that day, Amen?

 

There was a young boy who watched his grandmother every day when she would read her Bible. Matthew Chapter 27, and that deals with that story, what is it? It is the crucifixion of Christ and every day when she'd read that chapter, she would start to cry and he would watch her from around the corner and he would see her weeping as she sat in the chair and read that chapter and he said, “Grandpa,” he says, “Why does grandma always cry, every day, when she reads that same chapter from the Bible?” And the grandfather looks at the boy and he says, “Because she believes it. Because she believes it.”

 

We've read the story so many times, we've heard it so many times but it doesn't really move us anymore. But if we really could grasp. If we could pray and ask God to give us a genuine revelation of what it truly was that Christ experienced for us, every day we should weep. Maybe we're not emotional people but whatever not-emotional people do that's the equivalent of weeping, we should do it. What do you think?

 

We are gospel-hardened. We are gospel-numbed. We are rich and increased with goods. We don't really care. We don't really understand what it was that Christ experienced.  When I heard my dad last week weeping and crying and he said to me, “I want to accept Christ”, and I led him through the Gospel presentation and he made the decision to receive Christ and be justified right there. He said I've never experienced such peace in all my life. It changes life.

 

Have you had that experience, friends?  Have you been born again? I'm not talking about some experience of emotional ecstasy and all that.  I mean, you may have that, you may not; that's not what the focus is on.  But have you come to the place in your life when you have had, you have been so at the bottom of the barrel, that you had nothing else to depend upon, nothing else to rely upon, no other person to look to, not a parent, not a spouse, not a brother or sister, but the only place you could look to, was Christ. If you have not had that experience, I pray to God that you will plead with him until you have it because he wants to give it to you today. He wants to give you a revelation of Himself. We know the truth but we don't live the truth. We don't live it because it's not, we don't have a love for it, what Jesus wants us to have.

 

Ellen White says, “A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish.” That’s been our problem. We don't allow every other union to something else that hinders our union with Christ to perish. “Christ first chose us, paying an infinite price for our redemption and the true believer chooses Christ as first” and what? “Last.” Not just in name, friends, but indeed… in every choice that we make first and last and everything in between I might add.  “…and best in everything. But this union costs us something. It is a relation of dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God.” Most of us have not done that or some of us have done it sometime and not another time. “There will be a struggle with outward and internal obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment from the world, as well as a work of attachment to Christ.  Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness - sin in all its forms - must be overcome if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason, notice this, the reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is, they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from these cherished idols.” R&H, December 12, 1887

 

And let me tell you what friends and I say it with fear and trembling and with humility and with love. But I dare to say and I'm not judging people, I don't know the hearts of men and I know that for me this has been my experience more than once. But I fear that this is the experience of not some Adventists, but most Adventists, most, at least in North America. We try to attach ourselves to Christ without first detaching ourselves… and let me tell you what, friends: that is actually worse. It is actually worse than if we were to just completely turn our backs on Christ and bowed completely on the ground to those idols. It's worse.

 

We must, in confession, separate ourselves from partnership with worldliness and from coldness with each other. And you may say, “I don't know how to do that.” But friends, that's OK. I don't blame you for that because I don't really know how to do it either. The Bible says in Romans 8, we don't really know how to pray but we better get on our knees as if our lives depended upon it and if we think we're OK, you’re probably not! We've got to get on our knees and we've got to wrestle with God. And we’ve got to say, “God give me this experience or else I'm going to die!” You must save and you alone, Wash me now lest I die.

 

When was the last time you wrestled with God? When was the last time you were on your knees all night in prayer? You know I've been reading this book. It's called: The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds.  It's like five or six books on prayer and he talks about the great men of old, how they would sit and wrestle, the great preachers, they would wrestle with God for three, four, five, six hours at a time in prayer. I bid to fear that most of us today, don't even know what that experience would be like.

 

Let me tell you friends, I'm not saying, don't misunderstand what I'm about to say here, but I remember when I first came to Jesus. I was a college student. I had no job, I had classes for about three or four hours a day and I had plenty of time on my hands. And when I first came to Christ, I would spend hours and hours in prayer. I was the type of person, before I knew Christ, I stayed up till three, four, five o'clock in the morning playing video games, and then I would sleep until about two o'clock the next day. I would purposely select classes in the late afternoon so that I didn't have to get up.

 

But when I came to Christ, I found myself, without reading any counsel from Ellen White, or seeing any scientific studies, I was going to bed at seven or seven thirty at night! Never, never done that before in my life! Never read anything about it, but I would wake up at two and three in the morning I would spend hours, and friends, let me tell you, when you spend hours with God in your closet... We need more closet prayer, hours with God in your closet. There is a sense of his presence that draws near. And you can sense his presence there with you. It's powerful. It’s incredible. We're not talking about the mysticism and all that.  I’m just talking about good old fashioned biblical closet praying here, and claiming the promise that God will draw near to us when we draw near to him. Do you have such an experience? What could possibly be more important in your life than that? Not even your job, not even your family.

 

E.M. Bounds makes a statement. He says, “Do not let company or business rob thee of God.” He said, sometimes you're going to have to say no to your friends, sometimes you’re going to have to say no to that get together, because man, I've got to go to the closet and I've got to be in touch with my Creator. That's the experience we've got to have and many of you today are looking at me with blank faces I'm not going to look at anybody because then you'll think I'm talking about you.

 

Seventh-day Adventists, we need a wakeup call. “We must, in confession, separate ourselves from partnership with the worldliness and from coldness with each other. But oh, we are far more content with our work than we are with prayer. We believe more in speaking to men than to God. Learn from this that the Holy Spirit calls us to a renewed season of fasting and prayer, to new separation from the pleasures of this world, to new consecration to God and His fellowship.” – (Andrew Murray)

 

Please friends, please! Do not know the fellowship of other earthly people more than the fellowship of Almighty God! Do whatever is necessary in your life to accomplish a fellowship with God on a daily basis. It is not rocket science. It is not just some magic button. It is nothing more than getting ourselves up in the mornings. But getting ourselves up and hungering and thirsting for righteousness as if our life… because they do. Because the time is coming, it's coming! We're going to be put in jail. We're going to be hunted down. I’m not trying to scare anybody but it's the reality, it’s the truth. It's going to happen. And we're going to wish that we had those moments again. We're going to wish that we had that time again, but it's not going to be there. And only what you build up today will be ready for then, for that.

 

“You may be a very earnest, godly, devoted believer, in whom the power of flesh is still very strong.” You see Peter confessed Christ before he was broken on the rock. Peter preached the gospel. Peter participated in the church. Peter cast out demons and worked miracles but he was unconverted.  So don't think, (and he slept... thank you.) That's right, in Gethsemane he slept. Don't think for a minute that just because we have been in the church all of our lives, that we're safe! Because, let me tell you friends… doesn’t have grandchildren, he only has children!  “It is either one of the two. There is no other choice for us. We must either deny self or deny Christ. There are two great powers fighting each other: self and the power of sin, and Christ and the power of God.  One of these must rule over us.” – Andrew Murray.

 

You cannot sit on the fence because the devil owns the fence. He owns the fence. We must wrestle with God. Do we know what it means? Do we know what it is to wrestle with God? Reflect upon in your own heart, friends. Agonizing sacrificial prayer, has it been a part of your life? Do you know what it means to be in the closet with God and to not leave until you know He has blessed you? Do you know what it means to wrestle with Him until you see your prayers answered?

 

I remember the story of John Wesley. He was on the boat, coming to America. There was a great storm and the Moravians or some group was there with them. It was a group of German believers and during the raging of the storm, he said, all the people that had not known Christ feared for their lives. They were kind of just in a crazy state and he said that group of people were just standing there, calm as a button, and he came up to them and he says, “Are you not afraid that your women and your children are going to perish?” And they said, “No, we're not afraid.” They said, “We're not afraid to die because we already died once this morning, and we're not afraid to die. Our life is in God's hands and nothing can prevail against it as long as I'm centered in his will.”

 

Have we wrestled with God?  I remember a story of my friend. He's older now, but he was a teenager and late teens early twenty's actually and he was dating this girl and every night they would go out partying and they would come back to the house at about four o'clock in the morning, after they'd been to the bars they'd been drinking all night. And they came back in and he would go into the refrigerator and make himself something to eat and the girl would watch some T.V. and after a few nights he was in the refrigerator and he heard this sound. It was a weeping sound, this crying and tears and weeping and this calling out. And he thought, “What is that? So weird!” And so he closed the refrigerator he went and didn't think anything, but next night he came home at five o'clock in the morning. He's in there and he's getting some to eat and hears the sound again. And he's like, “What is that?” Third night, he comes, same sound. “What is that?” He asked his girlfriend and says, “What's this noise of weeping? Who is this cry, who's crying?” She says, “Oh that's my mother.” And she said, “She's upstairs and every morning she wakes up at like two or three in the morning and she's praying for us. She's praying that I'll give my life back to Christ and that you will give your life to Christ.” And this man, it kind of just shook him up. And for the next several nights they are going out partying and he comes and he's hearing this sound. And after a few more nights of it he says to his girlfriend, “You know what?” He says, “Enough is enough.” He says, “We're going to church this Sabbath. And we're going to do Bible studies.” And they did Bible studies. They were both baptized. Prevailing prayer.

 

God wants to be so real to us. God wants to answer our prayers. God wants to work miracles but he cannot do it unless we have prevailing prayer and we will never, never, never be absolutely surrendered to God until we have wrestling, sacrificial prevailing prayer with the Almighty. You can bet on it. You can be sure of it. We will not get into heaven because of we’re a fifth generation Seventh Day Adventists. In fact what I believe is that there are no… generation Adventists. You understand that? We all ought to be first generation Adventists. Amen? Absolute surrender can only take place when righteousness is what? is possessed by faith.

 

We only have a few minutes here. Go with me to 1 John 3:5. When we possess it… Verse five, first John three five, he says, “And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins and in him, there is” what? “There is no sin.”  You guys still awake? You’re still with me? OK. “He was manifested to take away our sins.” Do you know what that is? It's justification. It's by faith. How many of us by faith have truly received the gift of Christ? We ought to be sure that we've had that experience. Are you with me? We ought to not wonder about it. We ought to be sure, we ought to know that Christ has taken away our sins and that we have by faith the righteousness of Christ in our life and that his righteousness is covering our sins. We have to possess it, dear saints. We talk all about it. We debate about it. We debate about what it is and how we receive it and all these things but let me tell you what if we would get on our knees, and we would plead with God, we wouldn’t need to talk about it because we would know we have it. We need to possess it. We need to possess it.

 

#4 Absolute surrender takes action when righteousness by faith is what? Practiced. Look there in verse six and seven, he says, “Whoever abides in him does not sin. Whoever sins, neither has seen him nor known him.” What does it mean to abide in Christ? That is the process of sanctification, right? Then he says in verse seven, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as he is” what? “Righteous.” So let me just say this. And then verse eight, nine… Let me come back to that.  I’ll just come back to that which describes glorification which talks about that he would destroy the works of the devil in us, the sin that's in us.

 

Now, if you go with me over to James chapter four and verse seventeen. If I asked you again, What is righteousness? What would be your answer? OK, it's right doing, right?  Many times people describe righteousness as resisting temptation. Correct? Are you with me? They talk about righteousness as being when we resist temptation and we are resisting lust, resisting the temptation to overeat or to steal or to lie. Whatever that may be. We’re resisting temptation. That would be the definition of many people for righteousness. But if you look in James 4:17, is it possible for righteousness to become sin? What do you think? It could be. Let’s look here in James. He says, “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not” what? “do it, to him, it is” what? “It is sin.” Righteousness is not simply resisting evil. That's only half of righteousness. But we have this idea in our minds that if we resist all these things, even if we do it in the power and the grace of God, we're righteous. But friends, righteousness is not simply resisting evil but it is doing what? It is doing good. It is doing good. And so we can resist. Let me just make this... I think I have it right here… We can resist every temptation that Satan can throw at us but we can still, until we practice righteousness, we will still, what? Sin! Does that makes sense?

 

So righteousness is right doing. And so until we're doing right, now listen, let me make this clear. The only way to do righteousness and to practice righteousness that is of any eternal value must be done in the same faith that we received righteousness. You didn't do anything except open your heart to receive it, right? That's all you did. That's all you CAN do! And so in order to do what heaven's righteousness, what true righteous is, it can only be done by the same element of faith by not, now Christ in giving me righteousness, He comes and he gives me his righteousness as my own. That's when I'm justified. But when I'm sanctified, it's now his righteousness living in me. So let me say this:  absolute surrender is not through prayer asking God to help me do better. Are you with me? Doing righteousness is not asking God to help me do better! Because, think about that: God, please help me do better. Please help me not to lose my temper, please help me not to whatever… Because what's my prayer? God, please help who? Me! Instead of saying, “God, please help me.” We should say, “Lord, I'm surrendering to you. Please live your righteous life through mine, through my life. And do righteousness through me. And so we can't save a soul in our own righteousness. We can't witness in our own righteousness. We can't do anything in our own righteousness. It must always and can only ever be through who? Through Him.

 

But let me ask you a question today. In doing righteousness, how many of you know your neighbors? Ellen White says we should know the spiritual condition of our neighbors. How many of you know all the people in your church, by name? How many of you are doing something to benefit the local work and your community, the Gospel work. We can resist sin all day and eat veggie links. Instead of eating the beast we eat the image of the beast. Through the veggie links. We can do all these things. We can resist all that stuff but until Christ dwells within us and we do have the righteousness that he did. It can only be done through him living within us. We have failed and we have sinned. And you say, “Man I don't know if I can do that?...” Of course you can't. It has to be Him. And if you're trying, you stop trying. Stop trying and yield, yield yourself to him. Give yourself to him submit again, and again, and again, and God will do it. We must practice righteousness.

 

First John 3:14, and going back to 1 John 3. You're OK if we go over two or three minutes? You're OK if we go over two or three hours? No, I'm just kidding. You said yeah. So you're OK, well good. I'm just kidding. We won't do that. Let me go back here. First John 3:14 to 16. “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love” who? “the brethren.”  And this is where it's going to hurt just a little bit for a minute. Remember we're talking about practicing what? Righteousness. “He who does not love his brother abides in” what? “in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in Him. By this we know love because he laid down His life for us and we ought to lay our lives down for” who? “for the brethren.”

 

And now, think about this, self is our greatest curse. It hinders and destroys self-sacrificing love, yet self is the one thing we rarely pray for deliverance from. Have you ever noticed that? Have we noticed that? We often pray for blessing or for the power in the work or from something similar but how often do we pray for deliverance of self so that we may not be self-righteous in our fellowship with God or self-centered in our love towards others. Do we do that? How can I learn to love?  I cannot learn to love until the Spirit of God fills my heart with God's love. Romans 5:5 talks about the spirit filling and overflowing my heart with love and I begin to love in a very different way than I have sought it so selfishly. As a comfort, joy, and happiness, and pleasure to myself. Think about this! We often pursue the love of God as a comfort to who? To me and to ourselves. But true Biblical love and true practice of righteousness is not simply… Is it wrong to seek it for ourselves? No, it's not wrong. But if we keep it to ourselves, that is wrong.

 

“I will not learn it until I realize that “God is love” and claim it receive it as an indwelling power for self-sacrifice. I will not love until I begin to see that my glory, my blessedness is to be like God and Christ in giving up everything in myself for my fellow men.” – Andrew Murray.  Evangelism. But not just evangelism but loving my brother in the what? in the church. We have too much strife in the church. Listen. It doesn't matter if a person is conservative or liberal there's so much strife, even between those two but even within those two towards each other.

 

God, close my mouth to criticism, judgmentalism, negativity, hatred towards my brother. Close my mouth, Lord. Are you with me, friends? Close my mouth. We believe in truth but we should also believe in what? Loving kindness. That doesn't mean I have to agree with that brother on that particular theological issue but after our discussion we ought to be able to put our arms around each other and say we love each other, are you with me? We ought to be able to reach out to those who disagree with us, who may have a theology of heresy and we ought to be able to reach out to them and they ought to know that we can love them. In fact Ellen White says that it is your love for your brother that will win them to the truth much more readily than any argument you have. And let me tell you what, friends. Whether it's a liberal Adventist or a conservative Adventist, we have failed big time… Some of the conservative Adventists are some of the most cold people, a formal people I've met and some of them the liberal people are some of the most hypocritical and intolerant, while preaching tolerance, people that I've ever met. You know why I say that? Because I consider myself neither. I'm not conservative or liberal, I want to be Biblical.

 

But we need to have a love for each other. “The Lord never blesses him who criticizes and accuses his brethren, for this is” what? “Satan's work.” Manuscript 21, 1894. Isn't that interesting? Why aren’t we blessed as a church? Because we can't stop fighting, can't stop fighting.

 

So today I want to ask you, Have you gone to your brother or sister that you have disagreed with and sought his forgiveness if you treated him or her wrongly?  Have you done that?  Because until you do that in the spirit and power of Christ, you have not practiced righteousness and Christ has not dwelt within you to the capacity that he would desire. If you have a grudge, if you have bitterness, the Bible says if we have not loved our brother, the righteousness of God has not been born in us.  It has not been born in us. Jesus said by this all will know that you are my disciples if you have what? Love for one another.

 

These won't take as long. We’ll be finished in a minute. Number four, Absolute Surrender makes fruit when righteousness. I think this is number five. This should be number five. When righteousness by faith is what? Proclaimed. So it's proclaimed. Does it need to be proclaimed, yes or no? Absolutely!  First John 3:17. Notice what he says here, 1 John 3, No that’s the wrong verse, let me find it here. Verse 17, “But whoever has this world's goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in Him? My little children let us not love in word or tongue but indeed and in truth; and this we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before him.”

 

Now let me tell you what. I believe with all my heart in the theology and the message of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, OK? I believe in the sanctuary, I believe in all the prophecies. I love them. I proclaim them. I shout them from the mountain tops. I preach prophecy in Revelations seminars. In fact prophecy is what saved my life. However, it is not the knowledge of those theological truths that give us assurance before the throne of God. Because there will be people who know them better than you and better than I, who will be lost in the judgment. But the Bible says what assures the truth of our hearts before him? It is that we do not love in word or tongue but in what? In deed and truth. The world must not simply hear about the righteousness of Christ. It must what, friends? It must see it, it must be claimed through our lives.

 

So here are the five keys to absolute surrender. What are they?

Number 1: It must be what? Preferred.

Number 2: It must be Pursued.

Number 3: It must be Possessed.

Number 4: It must be Practiced.

Number 5: It must be Proclaimed

 

When we have this experience, we will be absolutely what? Surrendered to God. And guess what, friends? All of this is not about what we do. It's about what who? It's about what He's doing within us. Have you prevailed with God through prayer?  It's my prayer.

 

“Your Christian life is to be continuous proof that God works impossibilities.” Would you agree with that? “It is to be a series of impossibilities made possible by God's almighty power.” Amen? “The world needs not just a proclamation, a documentation, but a demonstration of the Gospel in the world today.” And let me say this, friends. God is not waiting for his character to be formed in the hearts of his people. But he today I believe is actively forming it in the hearts of those who will surrender and yield to him today. How many of you want the experience today of an absolute surrender, unconditional surrender. You want to be righteous, you want to proclaim righteousness, you want to practice righteousness, Amen? That is the experience that we must have.

 

Friends, Jesus is coming soon. Do we believe it? Do we believe it enough to surrender all and wrestle with God and ask Him and say, “God, what would you have me to surrender to you?  What would you have me to surrender?” I would be fair to say that all of us in this room have something that needs to be surrendered. What do you think about that? We're going to pray and after that, don't leave because I want to sing this song but as I pray, I'm going to ask, I’m going to invite you to think of that one thing in your heart today. I don't know what it is for you. I know what it is for me but I'm going to ask you to think of that one thing that Jesus would say, “I want you to surrender today.” And make a decision in your heart to surrender it just now.

 

“Father in heaven, we thank you so much that you call us to an absolute surrender because it is only through an absolute surrender that we can truly be happy, that we can truly have peace, that we can truly have hope, and assurance before you. Lord, the battle of self is the greatest battle that's ever been fought. But by your grace and your spirit and your strength, we can be overcomers. Jesus would have us to be overcomers because He overcame and His righteousness can be given to us and just as He was surrendered to you in everything in this life, so we can be too, when we possess His righteousness and it is carried out in our lives by your spirit. So Lord, today we ask that you would surrender that one… help us surrender that one thing, Lord, that one thing in our lives for Jesus is coming soon. The signs are all around us. We don't have time to delay any more because it's not just about us being ready, Lord. It's about you helping us to lead others to be ready. And if we're not ready, we can’t help others be ready. So Lord we pray that that greater purpose of salvation of souls would be realized in our lives and that we would surrender all for your glory. We pray in Jesus’ name.

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