What It Means To Love God

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Part 2 of 7: Seven Steps To Revival

By Derek Prince

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The Lord allows His people to reach a place of utter helplessness and total reliance. But, when our prayer is based on this realization, the Lord's compassion prevails.

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This evening we’re going to make one of our proclamations and I feel it’s for people here who are maybe desperate. Maybe you’ve come here and this is your last hope, and if things don’t work out this week you have no other prospect. These are the words of Jeremiah from the book of Lamentations when everything around him had collapsed. His city was in ruins, his people were enslaved, the temple was destroyed and burned. Everything that was important to Jeremiah had been taken from him. And in the middle of Lamentations, chapter 3, verses 22–26, he spoke these marvelous words. When you realize the circumstances in which they were written, let it give you hope too.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

May God bless those words to you.

Now we’re going to turn again to the Word of God. Last night I spoke about the theme that the goal of God’s purpose in our lives is love. If we deviate from that goal and miss it, we’re missing everything that’s important in our lives. Tonight I want to speak to you on what it means to love God. You know, the first commandment is “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength.” And the second is like it, “To love thy neighbor as thyself.” And on these two commandments, Jesus said, hang all the law and the prophets. The whole Old Testament hangs on those two commandments.

And so tonight I want to speak to you about what it means to love God. I want to say right from the beginning that the love of God can never be separated from one other word which is obedience. You cannot separate the love of God from obedience to God. The love of God is not something mushy, it’s not sentimental, it’s not purely emotional. It carries deep emotion with it but it is rooted in the will and not in the emotion. I want to read to you some words of Jesus from John 14:21–24. In these words Jesus shows two things, the motivation for obeying God, his love—not fear but love; and second, love is expressed by obedience. I want to say those two things again because they’re basic and fundamental. In the Christian life the motive for obeying God is love, it is not fear. Paul said in Romans 8:15:

“We have not received the spirit of slavery again to fear.”

That was the Law of Moses. People obeyed the law because they were afraid of the consequences of disobedience. But in the New Covenant the motive is love, not fear.

I don’t know how many of you are bringing up or are bringing up children. I have my share of experience because and Ruth and I, between us, are responsible for twelve adopted children. And at this time we have about thirty-five grandchildren and forty-five great grandchildren. So, I’m not talking out of theory. I want to say that there are two ways you can try to train children, basically. One is by making a lot of laws and rules, and enforcing them. If you don’t do this, whatever will happen. The other is by earning their love. And you see, the difference is if your children are motivated by fear, when they reach the age of 16, 17 or 18 and go out from your home they will no longer obey you, they’ll go their own way. But if they’re motivated by love they’ll still continue to do what you taught them to do. So, love is the only effective motive for obedience.

So this is what Jesus said in John 14:21–24:

“He who has my commandments and keeps them [or obeys them], it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Notice that clear statement. He who has my commandments and keep them is he who loves me. And notice it’s not enough just to keep the commandments, you have to have the commandments. In other words, you’ve got to seek out the knowledge of God’s will. It’s not a passive attitude, “Well, if it says that, I’ll do it.” But it’s a seeking of the will of God and then obeying Him.

And then:

“Judas (not Iscariot but the other Judas) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?’”

Because Jesus had told them that He was going away, He would leave them but He would come and communicate with them again. So that’s the reason for the question.

“Jesus answered and said, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’”

That’s one of the few places in the New Testament, or in the Bible, where the plural pronoun is used of God. It’s very rare. It’s not I will come but we will come. The Father and the Spirit will come together to make their home with the one who keeps the Word of God.

And then he goes on to say the opposite side:

“He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

Actually, in that book that I mentioned, the Foundation Series, begin from this truth that if you want to know how much you love God you can easily find out. It’s exactly how much you obey His Word. You do not love Him any more than you obey His Word. You may say you love Him, you may pray as if you love Him but the measure of your love is the measure of your obedience to His Word.

So, love is the motivation for obedience and love is expressed by obedience. Now, this could frighten some of you. In fact, it could frighten me. I could say to myself if I’m not totally obedient does it mean I don’t love God? The answer is no. In the Christian life obedience is progressive. We don’t start the life by completely obeying everything. In fact, I’ve lived the Christian life for 52 years and there’s still a lot of areas in which I don’t fully know and follow the will of God. But, here is good news. As long as we continue believing, our faith is accounted to us for righteousness, even when we’re not fully obeying. It’s so important. Let me read that from Romans 4 about Abraham, verse 3. It says:

“What does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

That’s stated in Genesis 15:6. If you follow the career of Abraham afterwards, at least on two occasions he missed God. The first time when he let Sarah his wife be taken in as a concubine in a Egyptian king’s harem, and the second time when he agreed to Sarah’s suggestion to have a son by his concubine Hagar. In each case Abraham missed God, he did not perfectly follow the will of God. But, this is the good news, even when he wasn’t totally obedient his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. So don’t let the devil bring you under condemnation if you’re not always totally obedient, provided your heart is set to obey God. Many times you will stumble and fall but you’ll do just the same as Abraham. He stumbled, he made mistakes but he never gave up, his faith was always accounted to him for righteousness.

And so Paul says at the end of Romans 4:23–24:

“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead...”

So Abraham was a pattern. As long as we remain in faith, as long as our hearts are set to obey and follow God, even if we stumble, even when we miss the way for a time, our faith is still accounted to us for righteousness. Don’t let the devil condemn you.

I always think of the interview between Jesus and Peter at the last supper. You remember Jesus said to Peter, “Before the cock crows you’ll deny me three times.” But he said, “I’ve prayed for you that your faith will not fail.” Even if you deny me three times it’ll be all right, Peter, in the end, provided you don’t let go of your faith.

And so I want to say to every one of you here tonight, hold on to your faith. No matter how weak, no matter how many times you stumble, no matter how unworthy you may feel. Just don’t give up your faith because it’s accounted to you for righteousness. And if you hold on to your faith, just as Jesus brought Peter through He’ll bring you through. Our faith is not in ourselves, it’s in His faithfulness.

Now I want to give you an example of progressive obedience from my own experience. I was saved in 1941. I stumbled almost by accident into a Pentecostal church in Scarborough in Yorkshire. I didn’t know there were such people as Pentecostals. I don’t think I’d even heard of Baptists, as a matter of fact, at that time. I knew there were Anglicans because they were the church. I knew there were Roman Catholics, and I knew there were people called Methodists who had made trouble previously in British history. But that’s about the limit of my knowledge of denominations. Certainly I had never heard of Pentecostals. I went because another soldier invited me and he said, “Would you like to come somewhere on Sunday afternoon?” The apologetic way he said it told me it was a church. So I said to him, “Well, I want to tell you I don’t believe in religion but I’ve got nothing to do on Sunday afternoon so I’ll come just to see.” I had no idea what I would see and I saw a lot of things I didn’t expect to see.

And my one attitude, remember, I had been trained to criticize and analyze intellectually for about seven years at Cambridge. My one question was, “Does the preacher really know what he’s talking about?” He took his text from Isaiah 6, the vision that Isaiah had of the Lord in His glory. And when he saw the Lord in His glory he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips dwelling in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” And when I heard that phrase, “a man of unclean lips dwelling in the midst of a people of unclean lips,” I said to myself no one ever described you more accurately than that. Because, I was a solider in the British army and with all due respect for the British army I don’t think there is any group of men anywhere in the world that excel in unclean speech and blasphemy. I was in it for five and a half years so I at least had some exposure. I was as bad as the rest. And that evening at the end of the message that I didn’t understand—and I have to add in the middle of all this, some of you have heard this before, if you’d been planning to convince a philosopher from Cambridge, you wouldn’t have planned that meeting because the preacher got involved in a lot of things that had nothing to do with Isaiah and at some point or other he was dealing with the relationship between David the shepherd boy and Saul the king. He said quite rightly that Saul was head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people. He got involved in an imaginary dialogue between Saul and David. When he was speaking as David he stood on the platform, when he was speaking as Saul he stood up on a little bench on the platform and looked down at where he was when he was David. Well, in the middle of this the bench collapsed and he fell to the ground with a thud. Now, if you had been planning, as I said, to convince a Cambridge intellectual you would have left that part out of it!

But at the end of it all I came to one simple conclusion: He does know what he’s talking about and I don’t.

And then he took me by surprise and embarrassed me. They made what is commonly called an appeal. In those days there was no background music, every head bowed, every eye closed. And then as I understood it they said, “If you want this thing, put your hand up.” Well, I couldn’t figure out what this thing was except what happened to Isaiah. So I sat there paralyzed, embarrassed and I said I’ve never been in a place, in a church, where anybody asked me to do something so undignified as to put my hand up in public. But as I sat there there were two inaudible voices speaking to me. One of them said, “If you put your hand up in front of all these old ladies and you’re a soldier in uniform, you’re going to look very silly.” The other voice said in the opposite ear, “If this is something good, why shouldn’t you have it?” I was paralyzed, I couldn’t respond. Then a miracle took place and it happened to me. I saw my own right arm go right up in the air and I knew I had not raised it.

Well, that was all they were waiting for. Then they went on with the service. I got no counseling, I got no further instruction but I raised my arm.

Well, two nights later I was in another Pentecostal meeting and I thought I’m going to see this thing through. It was a different church, a different preacher but very much the same. This man preached on the text Enoch was not because the Lord took him. And, he was one of these people who believe in making things up so he described how they sent for the SID and they came with their tracking dogs and followed the scent just so far and then the scent ended. He said it didn’t go north, it didn’t go south, it didn’t go east, it didn’t go west, he must have gone up. I said to myself that’s logical, I can accept that.

So this time when they made the appeal I was ready and knew what was going to happen. I thought to myself somebody else put my hand up for me last time but I couldn’t expect that to happen twice so I’ll put my hand up and I did. The preacher came to me and he gave me a little more attention than the previous one. He looked at me and I think he thought he had a problem on his hands, and he asked me two questions. “Do you believe that you’re a sinner?” Now, my specialty had been definitions. So I quickly ran through in my mind all the obvious definitions of a sinner and every one of them fitted me exactly. So I said, “Yes, I believe I’m a sinner.” Then he said, “Do you believe that Christ died for your sins?” I remember vividly today exactly what I said. I said, “To tell you the truth, I can’t see what the death of Jesus Christ nineteen centuries ago could have to do with the sins I’ve committed in my life time.” And there I was, I was at an impasse. I think he was wise enough not to argue with me and I’m sure those dear Pentecostal people began to pray for me. They actually had what they call a revival in that church and there was only one person who got saved, and that was me! So they had every reason to pray for me.

Anyhow, I wasn’t saved but I felt I had stepped out of one world and I hadn’t stepped into another. I was like a person suspended between two worlds. I went on like that from Monday to Thursday. There were three questions in my mind. “If I get involved in this thing, what will happen to my university career?” Number two, “What will my friends say?” Number three, “What will my family say?” And that was the hardest question of all. But Thursday I came to the conclusion I don’t care what happens to my university career, I don’t care what my friends say, I don’t care what my family says. Whatever this thing is, I want it. And that night I got it. God knows when you’re totally prepared.

Now, I give this as an example, I didn’t intend to get into that. But with regard to unclean speech. The moment God saved me and filled me with the Holy Spirit my tongue was cleansed. I never used another unclean or blasphemous word. I didn’t give it up, it just wasn’t in me. I thought that’s wonderful, I’ve arrived. Then God began to show me there’s a lot of other ways in which we sin with our tongues. After a while God convicted me of being very critical of people. He said, “What have you to do to judge other people’s service?” And so I gave up being critical.

Then after a considerable period, this didn’t happen in a few weeks, God convicted me that I would very often use negative speech. I would often speak in terms of unbelief rather than belief. I would, in a way, give more glory to the devil than to the Lord. So He dealt with that and then, and here is where I am today, I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:37:

“Let your yes be yes and your no no, for whatever is more than these comes from the evil one.”

Now that’s a breathtaking statement. I saw that as a Christian I was obligated to say what I meant. No more, no less. No exaggeration, no varnishing any story, just simply telling it like it is.

James says if any man can control his tongue the same is a perfect man. Would you agree with that? So, this is my progress, it’s taken me years, I don’t claim to have arrived. But, my obedience has been progressive. But even when my obedience was incomplete my faith was accounted to me for righteousness. I hope that helps you because so many Christians come under condemnation. They fail and they make a mistake, they commit a sin and they think it’s all over, God is finished with me. Not as long as you hold on to your faith. Jesus did not say to Peter, “I pray that you won’t deny me three times,” He said, “I pray that your faith will not fail.”

Let us go on with this issue of loving God. The next thing I want to say, and this may in some way disturb you, is God is jealous. God’s love is a jealous love. A lot of people don’t like that. To me the thing that’s almost incredible is that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, would care so much about a person like myself that He’d be jealous if my heart turned in any direction but to Him. That is amazing but it’s true. God is a jealous God.

In the Ten Commandments, in Deuteronomy 5, God made this statement which I’ll quote you, it’s probably familiar to most of you. Deuteronomy 5:8–9:

“You shall not make for yourselves any carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

In other words, God said, “I don’t want any other person or thing to take the place which is reserved for me.”

You see, as a logician I came face to face with this fact. If Almighty God in all His majesty, glory, power and wisdom is willing to take a place in my life, then logically there is only one place I can offer Him; that is, first place. To offer God second or third place is to insult the Almighty. And I’m afraid many of us have been guilty of that.

Now let’s turn to the New Testament and look at some of the statements of Jesus. I think again of what Mark Twain said about Jesus, I quoted it last night. He said it isn’t the words of Jesus I don’t understand that trouble me, it’s the words that I do understand that trouble me. Can you identify with that? Jesus made some very troubling statements, some very disturbing statements. If you’ve never been disturbed by the Bible I doubt whether you’ve ever really read it. It’s a disturbing book and it was designed to disturb us.

So, in Luke 14, Jesus said—I’ll begin at verse 25:

“And great multitudes went with Him...”

What was His attitude to those multitudes? Did He say, “Isn’t it wonderful I have a great company of followers?” No. In fact, in a certain sense He did everything He could to discourage them. Today we tend to think in terms of mega-churches, the biggest church in the world, the second biggest church, a church with five thousand members or ten thousand members. I don’t believe Jesus is impressed because He did not tell us to make church members. Did you know that? He said go and make disciples of all nations. There’s a difference between a church member and a disciple. A disciple is someone who’s primary aim in life is to follow Jesus. A church member can be just somebody who has some religion, a respect for Jesus, attends church services, leads a “good” life. But I think, forgive me for saying this, one of God’s biggest problems in the world today is church members who are not disciples.

I’ll give you a little story that illustrates this, a rather unusual one. I’m going to tell it in such a way that it reveals no one’s identity. There was a really bad woman. I mean, by our standards she was everything she ought not to be. She was a Communist, she was a lesbian and she was a feminist. I mean, she took it seriously, she was actually buying revolvers to shoot men with. And somehow she got involved in some nefarious scheme with two of her associates which took her to the China Sea. They were in a small ship on the China Sea and the weather began to turn bad and the other people with her said, “Go down into the hold, switch on the radio and see what the weather report is.” This is almost incredible but I have the story very accurate. She went down into the hold, switched on the radio and heard “Today with Derek Prince” from Manila in the Philippines—and got saved! I mean, my messages are not more than twelve and a half minutes if you hear the whole thing. Now she is exactly the reverse of everything she was before.

You know, I think sometimes we spend too much time fighting abortionists. Let me say I think abortion is a terrible crime but I’m not sure that making enemies of abortionists is the right way to deal with it. We have one obligation which is to preach the gospel. I don’t think Jesus ever told us to go make enemies. He never made enemies of the tax collectors, He never made enemies of the prostitutes. The only people who were His enemies were the religious people.

Anyhow, she got wonderfully saved and totally transformed. She is now devoting her life to winning to the Lord the kind of people that she was before she was saved. But she says she has one problem. When those people meet the Lord and she takes them to church, the people in the church are so much less committed to what they believe than her friends were to what they believe that they can’t feel at home in the church. You see the problem? Church members are a barrier.

You remember what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea? “You’re neither hot or cold, you’re lukewarm. I wish you were hot or cold.” Because if you’re cold you don’t deceive anybody. You don’t make any profession of faith, you don’t call yourself a Christian. If you’re hot you challenge people. But if you’re lukewarm you mislead people because you give them a wrong impression of what Christianity really is. Jesus said one of the most vulgar things you could say. He said, “Because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Do you believe the Lord would speak like that? Well, He did. He is very plain spoken.

So, God is not interested in meeting church members. Some of these churches with thousands of members, they may all be disciples. Well, that’s wonderful. But I sometimes wonder whether that really is so.

Let’s look at what Jesus said to the people who followed Him in Luke 14, beginning at verse 24:

“Great multitudes went with Him and He turned and said to them...”

He didn’t say, “Come on and join me, we’re going to have a wonderful time. You’re going to get wonderfully blessed.” He said something quite different.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

That’s a very searching statement. Does Jesus ask us to hate our family members? No, unless what? They become a barrier to our love for Him, they take in our hearts and lives the place He claims for Himself alone. And then He says in that case you must have an attitude of hatred toward them. You must hate anything that takes my place in your life. He was careful to say you’ve got to hate your own life also.

In 2 Timothy 3 Paul gives a list of eighteen different moral blemishes which will distinguish humanity at the close of this age, and almost all of them are conspicuous in today’s society. The first one he says is men will be lovers of themselves. I have come to see that the greatest single problem in the Christian life is self love. It’s self-love that breaks up families, that breaks up marriages. I saw statistics a year or two ago of a survey in the United States about how many people live together in a household today. The average number is 1.7 persons. Less than two people can live together. Why? Because of self-love. If you don’t suit me, you can go. It’s true we got married but if you can’t get on with me and my ways, then go. Self-love is the root of the break up of the family which is the root of the break up of society. Jesus said when it comes to your relationship to me, you have to hate yourself. Hate your father, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, your wife. That’s a searching statement. Please understand I am not saying that it’s right to hate people. What I’m saying is anything that comes between Jesus and you, anything that takes the place of Jesus in your life, He demands that you hate it and eliminate it from that place.

Then He went on to say in the next verse:

“Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

I’ve heard two definitions of the cross which I think are worth mentioning. One is the cross in your life is where God’s will and your will cross. At that point you have to make a decision.

The other definition of the cross is the cross is the place where you die. It’s voluntary, you don’t have to take it up, but if you take it up it will be the place on which you die. Unless you meet those conditions Jesus said you cannot be my disciple.

A lot of people have interpreted it it’s hard but you may be able to. No, it’s not. It’s impossible to be disciples of Jesus and let anyone or anything take the place in your life which He claims. He is jealous. He will not share that position with any other person or thing.

And then in verse 33 of the same chapter He says:

“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

Not may not or will find it difficult, but cannot. In all those three passages Jesus says explicitly “cannot be my disciple.” In other words, if there’s anything that you’re holding on to that you will not let go for the sake of Jesus, you cannot be His disciple. That doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to take all your possessions and give them to the poor. That’s one requirement that Jesus made of one person, we’ll look at it in a moment. But what it means is anything in your life that is more important to you than obeying Jesus you have to let go.

I’ll just give you a little illustration from my own life. God saved me in the British army in Yorkshire in 1941. I always thank God for the people of Yorkshire. If there are any here, God bless you. They showed kindness to a poor, hungry soldier, took me into their home and introduced me to Jesus. Then I was in the army for four and a half years in the Middle East in North Africa and then in Palestine. At that time God called me specifically to serve Him in Palestine. When the time came for my discharge from the army the British army owed me a passage back to England, it was my right. I was making preparations to go and God gave me—I don’t know whether He does it with you but He gave me a tongue and an interpretation. And in essence it said, “The ship is in the harbor, the sails are up, everything is ready. If you get on board now you can go. If you miss it now you’ll never go.” I knew that I had no option but to obey God. At that time my dear grandfather who was one of the closest members of my family to me was dying of cancer. I was his only grandson, he longed to see me and I longed to see him. But I had to say no.

Then King’s College, Cambridge, which was my college, wrote me a very flattering letter saying if you come back we’ll give you this and this and this. In other words, you’ll have an assured academic career in one of the most distinguished academic institutions in Britain. I hope you’ll agree with that even if you’re from another college. I had to write back. I was not tactful, I wouldn’t do it again. I said, “I can’t come, I’ve become a Christian.”

So I gave up my family, my country, my career. And then when we had to buy a house in order to save our lives, and I can’t go into the details, I gave up my life savings.

Now, God didn’t say to me you cannot be my disciple unless you give up everything but He just caused me to do it. And only afterwards did I realize that I’d fulfilled the conditions of discipleship. I’m not suggesting that God will deal with any of you exactly the same way but His conditions remain the same. Anyone who will not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Let’s turn to another story, and it’s the last one we’ll look at, in Mark 10. This is a story that has made a deep impression on me over the years. Mark 10, beginning at verse 17 and reading through verse 22:

“Now as Jesus was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’”

Elsewhere in the gospel we discover that this young man was a ruler and he was wealthy. And he came running, he was enthusiastic.

“So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’’ And he answered [and I’m sure he was speaking the truth] and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ {He was a very good, moral, upright young man.] Then Jesus looking at him, loved him...”

And that phrase has impressed me so deeply. I think I can say it is frightening to be loved by Jesus because when He loves you and looks at you He sees right through you into the innermost depths of your personality. He knows everything about you and unerringly He will put His finger on the one thing that stands between you and Him. And it’s not always the same. With this young man it was his possessions. But with others it could be something different. For instance, in your life if you’re a young person it could be an unsaved girlfriend or an unsaved boyfriend. Or, it could be a job that you particularly aspired to and you achieved. Or, it could be a career or it could be further education. It could be many different things but if it’s more important to you than Jesus, and Jesus stand in front of you and looks at you and loves you, He’ll put His finger on the one thing that stands between you and Him. And so He said:

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack...’”

Only one thing but it was the only truly important thing in life. Everything else was secondary. He had everything but one thing.

“One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross [notice that], and follow me.”

Now Jesus did not lay that condition down for everybody who came to Him. There’s nothing in the New Testament that says when you get saved you necessarily have to give up all your possessions and give them to the poor. Although, I respect the people that have done that. Jesus put His finger on the one thing that was the barrier between that young man and salvation and discipleship. He said just give up everything that you have, sell it all, come and follow me.

The New Testament is so vivid. When he came to Jesus he came running. When he left he was walking. It says:

“But he was sad at this word, and walked away grieved, for he had great possessions.”

Most people think that having great possessions will make you happy. The truth of the matter was with this young man it was the thing that made him unhappy. Why? Because he was not willing to let go of that one thing in order to follow Jesus.

Brothers and sisters and dear friends here tonight, I just want to challenge you. I think there was a prayer at the beginning that God would challenge people here tonight. I feel that’s what He wants to do. I want you to picture to yourself for a moment you alone with Jesus, nobody else in the picture, and Jesus is looking at you and He’s loving you. But with His loving eyes He sees into the innermost of your personality, He sees every aspect of your character, He knows everything from your past. He says, “Follow me, but that one thing that’s holding you back, you have to give it up. You have to lay it at my feet.” And tonight I believe there are many of you here who are in that position. You call yourself a Christian, and I’m not denying the claim. You may be a church member, you may do a lot of good things. Like that young man, he kept all the commandments but Jesus said one thing you lack. The one thing that really matters in life which is a committed personal relationship to Jesus Christ that makes Him Lord, how are you going to respond?

I just want you to be silent for a moment and think this over. If you have the sense that you’re here tonight and Jesus is confronting you—and I believe He’s confronting many of you, I have that impression—how are you going to respond? Are you going to lay everything at His feet without reservation and say, “Lord, take me as I am. I will serve you and follow you to the best of my ability.” Or, are you going to say, “Lord, I’d really like to, but my girlfriend wouldn’t follow, my boyfriend wouldn’t follow, my family might not approve, I might lose my job, my friends would make fun of me.” Is there a “but” that stands between you and Jesus right now?

Remember, there’s one thing that’s needful. There are lots of things that are important, lots of things that are enjoyable but there’s only one thing that’s absolutely necessary and that is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Not a church member but a disciple.

As I’ve confronted you with this challenge I’m praying for you, my wife is praying for you, others here are praying for you. This could be the most critical moment of your entire lifetime. You will probably never be in a better place, in a better atmosphere, to make this decision than you are right now. Would you say, “Lord Jesus, you gave up everything for me, died for me that I might be saved, and I give myself to you now without reservation. I lay down everything that could be more important than you in my life and I submit myself and yield myself to you without reservation—no strings attached, no secret conditions. Unconditional surrender.” It’s good to make that decision in your heart but it’s also good to publicly confess you’re making that decision. Jesus said, “If anybody denies me before men, I will deny him before the Father. If anyone confesses me before men, I will confess him before my Father.” There comes a point where you have to confess your commitment to Jesus. Tonight if you want to make that commitment I’m asking you to do it by one simple thing, by standing to your feet in your place where you are and saying, “Here I am, Lord Jesus, I choose to serve you, to follow you without reservations, nothing held back, no idols, no alternatives, nothing but Jesus.”

I am amazed at the response, to say the truth. Tears come to my eyes. I want to tell you I’ve served Jesus 52 years and I say as Pontius Pilate said, “I find no fault in this man.” He’s never failed me, He’s never let me down, He’s never condemned me. He’s corrected me, He’s chastised me but He stood by me through every problem and situation in life. I commend Him to you.

If you are really making that decision—in just a moment I’m going to ask the song leader to come back because I think we should worship God together—but let me say to you first of all, about worship. Worship is not entertainment. Worship is not just singing a few songs. Worship is giving yourself without reservation to God. All to Jesus I surrender. Here I am, wholly available. Will you say that? I think that’s what we need to say. Will you say this after me?

“Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. I repent of all my sins. I turn away from everything that would come between you and me and I lay my life at your feet this evening. Receive me the way I am and make me what you want me to be. For your glory, Lord Jesus, amen.”

Now I believe we should praise God together and some of you will praise Him with an altogether different attitude of heart and mind than you’ve ever had before.

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