Sold Out For Christ

By Timothy P. Hadley

In his book called “Absolute Surrender” Andrew Murray gives a wonderful illustration from 1 Kings 20:2-4. Ben-hadad ruled over Syria, located to the north of Israel. The wicked King Ahab was reigning over the Northern Kingdom from the capital city of Samaria. Ben-hadad gathered together his armies, which he described as more numerous than all of the dust of Samaria. He, along with thirty-two other kings, attacked and devastated the countryside of Israel. They surrounded the capital and brought the rebellious King Ahab to complete submission. All hope was gone and everything lost. The message came: “Thus says Ben-hadad: Your silver and your gold are mine; your loveliest wives and children are mine” (NKJV). He demanded and got absolute, unconditional surrender. Later, things worked out quite differently in this very interesting story, but at first Ahab offered the Syrian king everything he possessed. Let’s focus on that one sentence: “My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours.”

This sentence very aptly describes what ought to be our attitude toward God – what every child of God ought to say to Him. If our hearts are willing there is no limit to what God will do for and through us, but this necessitates our unconditional surrender to Him. This holy life has two sides: doing what God wants you to do and letting God do what He wants to do. In this we will be wonderfully pleased at the result.

Life Service, Not Lip Service 
Abraham was called the father of faith because of his willingness to surrender everything to God – ultimately demonstrated when God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham didn’t argue with God. Rather, he laid his son on the altar of sacrifice! God saw this act of surrender and said to Abraham, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Gen. 22:12). This proved his allegiance to God.

It seems that we are usually ready to do almost anything except surrender to God. I recently read a story about British Navy commander Lord Nelson. The British were victorious over their enemy and the defeated admiral came on board Lord Nelson’s ship to surrender. The admiral walked up in all of his regalia [finest uniform] with a sword swinging by his side. When he put out his hand to the British commander, Lord Nelson impassively said, “Your sword first, sir.” Similarly, we come to offer God the flattery of our lips, the praise of our hymns; but God is saying to us, “Your sword first.”

Start Well And Finish Well 
Another example of one who lived his life totally surrendered to Christ is the apostle Paul. From the very first moment he met the Lord on the road to Damascus to his very last breath, Paul lived a life sold out to Christ. Before his conversion Paul (then known as Saul) was a very religious man who thought he was serving God by persecuting Christians. But when the bright light from heaven stopped him in his tracks, Paul found himself face down crying out, “Who are You, Lord?” Once he found out it was Jesus Christ speaking to him from heaven, Paul immediately surrendered his life by saying, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” For the rest of his life Paul relinquished control, abandoning his own desires and passions, and submitting everything to the lordship of Christ (Acts 9:1-19)!

In Paul we see a very important principle: It does not matter how we begin, but how we finish. Many start out strong in the Christian life, but they give out along the way because of difficulties that arise or they are distracted by the cares of this world – something else becomes more important than Christ (Mt. 13:19-22). But Paul could say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day; and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). What does this mean for believers today?

  • “I fought the good fight.” When we trusted Christ as our Savior we entered a battleground. Satan lost our souls but he’s not about to give up. He’ll do anything to ruin our testimony. We are no match for the Devil – it’s impossible for any of us to win in our own strength. But Christ has given each of us His armor and the sword of His Word so we can stand firm (Eph. 6:10-17).
  • “I finished the race.” Paul often referred to the Christian life as a race, not a short sprint but a marathon. God has designed a specific path for each of us, giving gifts and abilities to enable us to fulfill His purposes and finish the course. This race is long and filled with obstacles, but Christ hasn’t left us to struggle on our own. The Holy Spirit guides and strengthens us along the way.
  • “I have kept the faith.” After revealing Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus entrusted him with a priceless treasure: the gospel. “Keep” means “to guard;” and that’s what Paul did as he preached and defended the faith, whether to Gentile skeptics or religious Jews.

The apostle Paul was not some type of “super Christian.” He was simply a Christian who yielded to the Word of God, submitted to the will of God and surrendered to the work of God in his life. Paul had a fresh realization that God was at work in him and through him (Phil. 1:6, 2:13). We are inadequate to fulfill God’s purposes, but the Lord Jesus provides everything we need. 

A Positive Challenge 
Much is given to us in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels about denying oneself and taking up our cross. But in the gospel of John the Lord Jesus describes a disciple of His as one who continues in His Word (8:31). We can be sold out to Christ only if we’re seeking His direction, following His Word!

In John 13:34-35 the Lord Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” We cannot say we have allegiance to Christ if we hold something against another believer. My lack of love says that I’m selfish rather than surrendered.

Jesus used the analogy of a vine and branches to describe our relationship with Him. Then He declared, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (Jn. 15:8). A branch can only bear fruit by abiding in the vine. In the same way, if we are going to be sold out for Christ we must maintain a connection with the Lord Jesus in order to become and do what He desires. The Lord Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (v.5).

Each of us is now faced with a decision: Are we going to be sold out for Christ? Are we going to give our lives over to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us? How do we move into a life of absolute surrender? How do we live a sold-out life? I think the old hymn by Judson W. Van De Venter, “All To Jesus I Surrender,” puts it well. As you read excerpts of it, let it challenge your heart: “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken … All to Jesus I surrender; Make me, Savior, wholly Thine … All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power … All to Jesus I surrender; Now, I feel the sacred flame. Oh, the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to His Name!”

A Relevant CommentBe it observed that the cross is viewed as the consummation [fulfillment] of a life of obedience – the completion of a work of self-surrender. It is what we may call, to use a Levitical term, the burnt-offering aspect of the death of Christ rather than the sin offering. True, it is the same act which consummated a life of obedience that put away sin. But considering verses in Philippians 2, sin-bearing is not so much the thought presented there as self-surrender. Jesus gave up all. He laid aside His glory and came down into this poor world. When He came, He shunned all human pomp and grandeur and became a poor man. His parents were poor – they were only able to acquire the lowest grade of sacrifice which the law allowed: not a bullock, not a lamb, but a pair of turtle doves (compare Leviticus 15:29 and Luke 2:24). He Himself worked and was known as a carpenter. Do not miss the moral force of this fact by saying that every Jew was brought up in some trade. Our Lord Jesus Christ really took a low place. The very town where He was brought up was a proverb of reproach. He was called a “Nazarene;” and it was asked with a sneer of contempt, “Is this not the carpenter?” (Mt. 2:23, Mk. 6:3). He was a root out of a dry ground. He had no form nor comeliness, no beauty in man’s eye. He was the despised, neglected, self-emptied, meek and lowly Man from first to last. He gave up all, even life itself. His self-surrender was complete.
—Charles H. Mackintosh