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Total Freedom

Surrendering to Christ is not easy, but it leads to freedom and life.

From the editor:

Here's another great sermon from one of our featured preachers, John Ortberg. This is actually John's message from Palm Sunday (2009). Though it might strike you as a little odd for us to run this sermon "out of season," we think you'll find a lot of great ideas for your own preaching. The topic at hand is much bigger than Palm Sunday: surrendering control of our lives to God. That's an issue that is always in season.

Introductory remarks from John Ortberg:

This message came from a conversation with a seeker, a pilot who had been thinking about Christianity a long time but had one area of his life where he had a hard time obeying God. He finally talked about this as an issue of who is in the driver's seat.

It was an image that lent itself naturally to the topic of surrender. I had a few chairs and a steering wheel on the platform to help reinforce the image.

It fell on a Palm Sunday. Teaching on annual holidays can be something of a challenge; this felt like it fit the occasion but also was fresh enough to give it a sense of urgency. The notion of wanting Jesus to be king—but really desiring my own agenda—is one of the primary themes of both the triumphal entry as well as my own life.

Also, this is the kind of message that faces much resistance at the level of the will. I find it helpful, in teaching, to think about both the cognitive and emotional and volitional aspects of the message. If the message is going to place high demands in one of those spheres, I try not to make it difficult in another one. In other words, since this message had to overcome much volitional resistance (who wants to surrender?), I wanted to make it a relatively simple message; not one that would require a lot of didactic ...

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Whoever is driving is the one in control.

II. Who's driving your life?

III. Surrendering to Christ is not easy, but it leads to freedom and life.

IV. We cannot will ourselves to victory; we must surrender our will.

V. We must surrender daily.


We can either live with a rebellious heart toward God, with a divided heart, or with a heart surrendered to him.