The War Won by Surrender: A Sermon on Romans 12:1–2 -- By: Jim Townsend

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 011:1 (Summer 2002)
Article: The War Won by Surrender: A Sermon on Romans 12:1–2
Author: Jim Townsend

The War Won by Surrender:
A Sermon on Romans 12:1–2

Jim Townsenda


For more than twenty years I was employed by a large Christian curriculum publishing firm called David C. Cook Publishing Company in Elgin, IL. This publisher was named for its founder, David C. Cook I. Mr. Cook was once the speaker for Christianity at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. He had been attending Wheaton College as a young man, expecting to enter pastoral ministry, when he got splinters in one eye, virtually (but temporarily) blinding him. This tragedy revamped the course of his life, eventually redirecting him to found a major Christian publishing company.

During his youth, David C. Cook I had prayed a one-line prayer frequently. His prayer was, “Oh, God, make all you can of my life.” And God did just that, using him to produce millions of pieces of Christian literature that have changed lives. D. L. Moody (a contemporary of Cook) had a similar experience, wanting to be the Christian wholly sold out to the Lord.

Someone has said that the Christian victory is the only battle won by surrender. That aphoristic axiom gets at the heart of Romans 12:1–2 where Paul pleads with his Roman readers to undergo a total transformation (physical and psychical) of their personhood. Present your very self to God in an all-out way: this is the urgent exhortation of the arch-apostle to all of us.

A Sacrifice To Be Performed, Rom. 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.1

The Logical Leverage Of The Sacrifice

An apostle in the spiritual sphere was something like a general or commanding officer in the military realm. As an apostle he could “command” (see 2 Thess. 3:6, 12, 14). In Philemon, Paul says he could “order” his reader (vs. 8), but rather he “appeals” to him (vs. 9). In Philemon 9 Paul used the exact Greek word found in Romans 12:1 (Παρακαλῶ parakalō, “urge”). Perhaps to stretch the point we might picture the writer here as Paul the beggar—rath...

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