|I Surrender All|
Judson Van DeVenter was born in 1855 on a farm in Michigan. After graduating from Hillsdale College, he became an art teacher and supervisor in the Sharon, Pennsylvania public schools. Van DeVenter was also actively involved in evangelistic meetings in his Methodist Episcopal Church. In fact, as his friends recognized his talent, they urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist. Van DeVenter questioned whether to become a recognized artist or devote himself to ministry for five years. Finally, he surrendered his life to Christian ministry inspiring the text of the hymn, All to Jesus I Surrender. Following his decision to surrender everything to Jesus, Van DeVenter traveled throughout the United States and parts of Europe as an evangelist.
In case you’re not familiar with the hymn, here are a few lines:
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
God may or may not be calling you into vocational ministry but He is calling you to surrender your life, your all, to the work of Christ in ministry. As we say at Heartland Church, every Christian is a minister and a missionary because we all have a ministry and a mission. In all honesty, the Apostle Paul confirms that we are all ministers in his letter to the church in Ephesus. Please notice that Jesus gifted some to equip every Christian, the saints, for the work of ministry.
EPH 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Further to that, Jesus commissioned every Christian to “make disciples” just before He ascended into heaven as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. We refer to this commissioning as the Great Commission.
With that, let me ask, have you surrendered all? If you haven’t, do you know what’s keeping you from surrendering your life to the ministry and mission of Christ? Yes, Jesus understands you have a family. Yes, He also understands you have to work to survive. Oh, and he understands you need your rest. The question remains. Have you surrendered all to Jesus?
Obviously, if you’re not actively involved in the ministry and mission of Jesus, you can’t claim you’ve surrendered all. So then, what does it look like to be actively involved in the ministry and mission of Jesus? It’s not a secret. You’re a disciple who makes disciples (e.g. Matthew 28:18-12, Acts 1:8, 2 Timothy 2:2) and you use your spiritual gift(s) (e.g. Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12) to build up the church. Please notice that the answer isn’t simply attending a worship service a couple times a month. As well, reading our Bible is important, but we must put it into practice ( ref. James 1:22).
With that established, it’s obvious we are living in a time where most Christians haven’t surrendered all to Jesus. How do I know? As reported by Barna, Pew and Lifeway, only 10-20% of Christians are actively and otherwise routinely involved in ministry. According to Health Research Funding, the average giving per person in church yearly is $884. That is well below the tithe by the way. Furthermore, Church Development claims only 5% of churchgoers tithe. As some have said, if Jesus doesn’t have your time and dedication for service and access to your money for His purposes, actually His money, He doesn’t have you. In any case, I surrender all means all.
Why are these numbers so bleak? Many of us have chosen a sin of omission or commission or both over Jesus. The sin of omission is failing to do what Jesus commands us to do. The sin of commission is doing something Jesus told us not to do. In my experience and observation, at the center of the problem is idolatry. We have other gods and the god we chiefly serve is self. You’ve heard this said before but here it comes again. If it’s all about you, it can’t be all about Jesus. Unless it’s all about Jesus, you haven’t surrendered all.
Just like Judson Van DeVenter, we have a decision to make. We either accept God’s call or we don’t. We’re either obeying His commands or we’re not. In any case, if your truly a Christian you’ve been called to a ministry and you’ve been commissioned to make disciples. Judson was a gifted evangelist. You have a gift as well. As with Judson, what stands between you and your calling is the need to surrender. As Judson pinned in 1855. “All to Jesus I surrender, All to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, In his presence daily live.”
A Work in Progress,
- Making disciples who make disciples
- Introducing people to Christ across the street and around the world
- Loving the least among us with grace
- Leading together through teams
- Empowering the church through passionate prayer
- Worshipping as a lifestyle
- Embracing ministry with a Kingdom mindset