World War II raged from 1939 to 1945. It was truly a global conflict, with battles being fought from Europe to Africa to Asia and in virtually every sea. Amazingly quick victories by the Germans and the Japanese in the early days of the conflict left their opponents reeling. In time, however, the tide began to turn. By early 1944, it was evident that the Allied nations would ultimately be victorious. At this point the leaders of the Allied nations met to discuss how to conclude the hostilities. While they squabbled over some of the details, they agreed on one point. The Allies would demand the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers.
Unconditional surrender meant that the defeated nations reserved nothing for their own control. They had to give up all right to self-determination, or to dispute or resist anything imposed on them by the victorious nations. They could place no conditions on their decision to lay down their arms. The defeated nations must place themselves completely at the mercy of the victors. This insistence on unconditional surrender was a prudent measure. The Allies did not want to leave their defeated enemies with any means to undermine the peace or to resume the conflict.
In the context of spiritual matters, the principle of unconditional surrender is just as valid as it is in the context of human warfare. The scriptures teach us that our sins make a separation between ourselves and God (Isa. 59:2). This separation is characterized throughout scripture as rebellion against God. When we persist in our sins we are, in effect, at war with the Creator of the universe. It is a war that we cannot win, of course, and the consequences of losing this war are too great to bear. Rev. 20:11-15 tells us that at judgment those whose names are not in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
All who fight against God until judgment face this fate, but there is an alternative. In Col. 1:19-23 Paul explained that God offered peace to mankind through the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s blood paid the price for our sins, and thus gives each of the opportunity to be reconciled to God. There are terms, though, but why would we expect otherwise? God is the victor in the great battle between good and evil. As the victor, it is His prerogative to establish the conditions for peace.
God’s terms are simple and they are unequivocal. We must obey the gospel, and we must be faithful to Him until we die. Our Lord Jesus declared God’s terms as clearly as anyone could. In Mk. 16:16 He said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” In Rev. 2:10 the Lord told the Christians of Smyrna, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” That’s the long and short of it.
However, we will never obey these commands until we unconditionally surrender to the Lord’s will. We cannot place any conditions on our obedience. If we wish to be saved, we can no longer reserve any aspect of our lives for our own control. We have to run up the white flag and let God have His way with us. We must place ourselves at His mercy. Anything less than this is unacceptable to Him.
Our Lord Jesus showed us how to do this throughout His ministry, and especially on the night before He was crucified. In the garden He asked that this cup might pass from Him, but then He prayed that the Father’s will be done and not His own (Mt. 26:39). If the Son of God unconditionally surrendered to the Father’s will, how can we do any less?