I've heard it explained so eloquently by Jim Hohnberger and received such a blessing from it, that I figured I'd try to write a post about it. You can find Jim's article about it by clicking here.
First, "the Christian life is not made up of doctrines, creeds, reforms, or church membership. It is not even made up of beliefs, but rather the Christian life is a bundle of choices. When God brings a truth or light to our understanding, it always comes with a choice. We must choose to submit to the will of God or refuse. When God has all my known choices, then He has me." - Jim Hohnberger.
The Christian life is a bundle of choices.
The Christian life is like a thick rope that has been cut in two. We are one piece and God is the other. Our goal is to be reconnected to Him. Each frayed strand of that rope is a possible choice. Every new truth we learn comes with a decision to make: will we follow? Will we surrender to God's will? If we choose to follow, then that strand becomes connected.
Caiaphas and the Thief on the Cross
Let's say for the sake of argument that there is a total of 100 choices that make up the Christian life. Out of those 100 choices, let's say that the thief on the cross only knew about 5 of them. But, on that cross, he surrendered to all 5 of his known choices. Jesus gave him assurance of salvation, why? Because he was 100% surrendered to God.
Let's say that Caiaphas, the high priest, knew about 70 of the choices, and was surrendered to 50 of them. If it was him on the cross instead of the thief, could Jesus have given him the same assurance that He gave the thief, that he would be with Him in paradise? No. Why not? Because he wasn't 100% surrendered to all his known choices.
Even though Caiaphas was surrendered to 10x more choices than the thief, he was not fully surrendered to all his known choices, whereas the thief was fully surrendered to all his known choices. And if the thief could have come down off that cross, God would have revealed more and more light to him and given him a chance to follow more and more and become more connected.
So, the Christian life is one of being surrendered to all of your known choices.
As we learn new truths, we have a choice as to whether we're going to submit to God and follow those truths, or whether we're going to say, "No, God." If we surrender ourselves to all our known choices, all the light God has revealed to us, then He will reveal more and more light (see Prov 4:18). If we do not surrender ourselves to God, what light we already have will be taken away (see 2 Thes 2:10,11; Mark 4:25; Matt 13:12).
The Rich Young Ruler
Then there's the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-23, who came to Christ and said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" At which point Jesus starts reciting the 10 commandments to him. So the rich young ruler says, "All these I have kept since my youth." And Jesus says, "One thing you lack, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you'll have treasure in heaven, and come follow me." Yet the rich young ruler walked away.
What did the rich young ruler's rope look like? He was fully connected except for one little string. All of the strands of his rope were connected to God except one last piece. Could Jesus have given him the same assurance of salvation that He gave the thief? No, because even though he had every strand of rope connected except the last string, he was not fully surrendered to all his known choices.
God doesn't want a 25% surrender from us, He doesn't want a 50% surrender from us, He doesn't even want a 99% surrender from us. He wants us to be fully, 100% surrendered to Him. With God, it's all or nothing. Remember what God said about being lukewarm in Revelation 3:16?
So the question we must ask ourselves is this: Are we fully surrendered to all of our known choices?