When someone is saved, it’s often said, “I gave my life to Jesus.” But what does that really mean? Doesn’t everything on earth, and every person who’s ever lived or is now alive, belong to the Creator of all things? If everything belongs to Jesus, how can you “give Him your life” when it’s already His?
Psa 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
Prov 16:4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
When a repentant sinner comes to Jesus seeking forgiveness and wanting eternal life, what is it that the person gives to Jesus? Let’s review some foundational truths before answering that question.
Purchased by Christ
God sent Jesus to earth to live and die for the sins of mankind, and by the shedding of His blood He has purchased us.
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:17 tells that God sent Jesus to the whole world, so “that the world through Him might be saved.” While Jesus came to pay for the sins of all people, God’s words, “might be,” in John 3:17, indicate only the possibility of salvation, not a guarantee. The next verse tells us that salvation is conditioned on belief.
John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18 tells that God “owns” the lives of all people, for He alone determines the eternal destiny of every person. All people are God’s creation and are under His law. Because God’s law is written on the hearts of all people (Rom 2:14-15).
Gal 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
“That we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Galatians 4:5 says “might receive.” We know it’s God’s desire to adopt everyone because He desires no person to perish (2 Pet 3:9), so the conditionality of this verse is not based on God’s desire, but on man’s choice.
We know that being adopted as a son of God is part of our salvation. And salvation is by grace alone through faith (Eph 2:8). Because Jesus died to pay for the sins of the whole world, all people have the opportunity to put their faith in Him — meaning all people have the opportunity to choose to know, believe, and trust in who Jesus is and what He has done to redeem mankind and make salvation possible,
1 Pet 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1 Cor 6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The price Jesus paid bought every human being. Jesus owns the lives of all people, so it’s not really our lives we give to Him. Jesus already has our lives. What He doesn’t have, and what He truly desires, is the hearts of all people.
We understand that love unites and binds people together. And we know that God is love. (1 John 4:8). That means the Father is love, the Son is love, and the Spirit is love. Love unites and binds the Trinity together. And love that unites us to God and binds us in a relationship as His children.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
We Give Our Hearts
Jesus may own the lives of every person, but He doesn’t have possession of the hearts of all people. In salvation, one freely chooses to believe in Jesus and trust in His work of paying not only for the sins of mankind but also for each and every personal sin one has committed. Trusting in Jesus is the only way to have sins forgiven. Therefore, a repentant sinner must come to Jesus in faith:
- Offering his heart— a broken heart that knows one’s sin and one’s need for forgiveness
- Making a conscious choice of the mind — a choice of knowing and believing that Jesus is God, that He died to pay for sins, and offers salvation
When one gives their heart to Jesus in faith, Jesus is faithful to forgive the person, regenerate the soul, give eternal life, and unite the person to God in love through the power of the Holy Spirit:
Rom 5:5 … the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
So We Don’t Give Our Lives?
***This is important: Please don’t correct anyone who shares about their conversion by saying they gave their life to Jesus. What the person means is that they fully gave themselves to Jesus. However, as explained, it’s really one’s heart that is given to Jesus in salvation. And I would suggest one’s life is given in sanctification (Read: What you need to know about Sanctification & Glorification)
Giving Our Lives to Jesus
I would suggest that giving our lives to Jesus is what is meant by Romans 12:1. Having given Him our hearts (love and devotion) we are able to give Him our all:
Rom 12:1 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.
Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is reasonable because God already owns our lives. He purchased them. Therefore, this “living sacrifice” is a surrender to Him as Lord over our lives — every day. This is the sanctification of our lives — the growing in holiness by knowing Jesus and living according to His will and ways.
And this surrender (living sacrifice) must be done daily by renewing the mind:
Rom 12:2 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.
And renewing the mind is done by reading God’s Word:
Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
And giving our lives daily to Jesus is a choice:
Joshua 24:15 …choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
Luke 9:23 Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Give Your Heart to Jesus and Give Your Life to Him
Salvation is really a decision of the mind and a desire of the heart. When one believes in the mind unto salvation, one chooses to believe with the heart what God has revealed of Himself and to profess that faith. Encourage the lost to give their hearts to Jesus:
Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
And for those of us who have already given our hearts to Jesus, we should choose daily to give Him our lives — that means everything we have:
- our hearts being devoted to Him above all
- our minds being renewed in His truths,
- and our souls yearning to know Him better and to love Him more.
At Reasons for Hope* Jesus we encourage you to go forth daily, loving your Lord, serving your King, giving thanks to your Savior, and desiring to show His love and grace to all people — with the hope that the lost “might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5) and those who are fully His will grow in holiness (1 Pet 1:16).
2 Pet 3:18 …grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
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