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White Flag Christianity

Notes & Transcripts

 TEXT:  Romans 12:1-2

TOPIC: White Flag Christianity

Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama

April 26, 2009 - Sermon outline by Dr. Stephen Olford

            One of the most difficult sermons for me to preach is the sermon following a week of revival.  The difficult part is knowing just what the message and the text ought to be.  One thing that is not difficult is returning to my pulpit after sharing it with another preacher for a week.

            With that said, would you open your bible to Romans 12:1-2.  I am preaching this morning on the topic, “The White Flag of Christianity.”


1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

            According to Wikipedia, “The white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolize surrender, since it is often the weaker military party which requests negotiation. A white flag signifies to all that an approaching negotiator is unarmed, with an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate.”

The whole burden of the apostle Paul in this 12th chapter of Romans, and particularly in these first two verses, is to show that the purpose of our salvation is that we might be truly surrendered to all the will of God. God expects His children to live surrendered lives to His will.

How do we practice White Flag Christianity?  First, notice the divine obligation to surrender to God.

I. The Divine Obligation to Surrender, Romans 12:1

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

            Paul insists that the Roman Christians surrender their total beings to God.  To beseech meant to beg.  Therefore, I beg of you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you yield your bodies—your total personalities—a living sacrifice, set apart for God, well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, logical, or spiritual service. 

Simply put, it is our expected obligation we each owe to God.

The obligation is occasioned by: 

A. The Revelation of Divine Love, Romans 12:1a

 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,

“By the mercies of God”—the plural denotes an abundance of mercy. God is rich in mercy; God has plenty of it. He has had to use a lot of it for me, but He still has plenty of it for you. “Mercy” means compassion, pity, and the tenderness of God. His compassions never fail.

In the previous chapters of Romans the apostle has unveiled the matchless love and mercy of God as seen in Christ.  Let’s take a walk down the Roman road to see just a few of His mercies.

Romans 3:23-24,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 5:8 tells us “God has proven His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

And Romans 6:23 reminds us of yet another mercy of the Lord in this way, “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And listen to Romans 8:37-39, 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            It is the revelation of God’s love in Christ that constrains us to surrender, to run up the white flag of Christian living!

B. The Expectation of Divine Love, Romans 12:1b

 …that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

True gratitude requires expression. A person who has been saved, but has never run up his own personal white flag to God, is one who has never seriously considered the revelation and expectation of divine love.

He says to yield “your bodies,” your total personalities. The body is the instrument through which we express ourselves. The mind, the affections, the will, and the Holy Spirit can use the body.

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).   The Divine Obligation of Surrender….now notice….

II. The Divine Order of Surrender, Romans 12:1

 …that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

The apostle insists that the act as well as the attitude of surrender of the sacrifice must be totally offered, and then worthily offered.

A. Totally Offered, Romans 12:1a

  …that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,

"Present" means "yield" and suggests the handing over of a gift. It is the voluntary response of the believer to the love, grace and mercy of God. Here the body stands for the complete man, including spirit and soul. It symbolizes the giving over of everything.

By an act of the will we place our total personalities at the disposal of God.

This is our “reasonable service,” our rational service, and it is well-pleasing to God.

B. Worthily Offered, Romans 12:1b

… present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,

This sacrificial phrase carries with it the thought of the burnt offering.

That is, an offering wholly consumed. It should be a living sacrifice which is intelligently, spiritually, continually, alive. Secondly, it should be a holy sacrifice. We cannot offer to the Lord that which cost us nothing.

Third, it should be a pleasing sacrifice.

The problem with living sacrifices is that most of them keep crawling off the altar!

Finally, let’s look at the divine object in surrender.  (Obligation…Order…now, object in)

III. The Divine Object in Surrender, Romans 12:2

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The object of the believer's surrender is twofold:

A. The Transformation of the Believer's Character, Romans 12:2a

 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

While we are called upon to maintain an attitude of surrender, a daily change takes place both negatively and positively. Stated negatively, he is referring to nonconformity to the world. Stated positively, he is referring to true conformity to Christ.

We are not to be fashioned after this world or age (Gr aioµn). The world system of this age is an evil one (Galatians 1:4), and is dominated by “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

As new creations in Christ we are to live with the understanding that “old things are passed away; and, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are therefore not to have our lives governed by the thought patterns and dictates of this evil world system.

B. The Regulation of the Believer's Conduct, Romans 12:2b

…that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Our conduct, our manner of living is to be good, acceptable, and perfect. This is the will of God for us, to live surrendered lives.  There is no greater joy on earth or in heaven than the realization of the will of God.

THE WILL OF GOD

The will of God will never take you,

Where the grace of God cannot keep you,

Where the arms of God cannot support you,

Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,

Where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you,

Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,

Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,

Where the army of God cannot protect you,

Where the hands of God cannot hold you.

The will of God will never take you,

Where the love of God cannot enfold you,

Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,

Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,

Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you,

Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,

Where the Word of God cannot feed you,

Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,

Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

--Author Unknown

Steven Olford has said, “Lord, your will, anywhere, anytime, any cost.”

How can we live white flag Christianity? The answer is by being transformed.  But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The only possible way for the believer not to be fashioned after this world is to be transformed in mind. The word transformed (Gr metamorphooµ) reaches far deeper than conformity to the world. This implies a fundamental change in the Christian’s inward nature and character which corresponds to that new nature.[1]

Conclusion:

Illustration of the Butterfly
    A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.  One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.  Then it seemed to stop making any progress.  It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.  So to help the butterfly he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.  The butterfly then
emerged easily.  But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in
time.  Neither happened!  In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.  It never was able to fly.  What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid
from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it
achieved its freedom from the cocoon. 

In the Christian life, the way to victory is through surrender.  Surrender to the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. 

If I could I would give each of you a white flag this morning.  But it is still up to you if you will bring your white flag of surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.


----

[1]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

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