Q&A: What does it mean to be sold out to the gospel?

What does it mean to be sold out to the gospel?

Question

What does it mean to be really sold out to the gospel? To be willing to give your life for the gospel. (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Answer

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

To be sold out in essence means total faithfulness and devotion. It means to be like Jesus. It means to be willing to give everything for the gospel. It means your life. For an individual person, perhaps the best way to answer this question is by way of an illustration.

Matthew Henry was a well-known 18th century Presbyterian Bible commentator whose father was a Puritan preacher by the name of Philip Henry. He had suffered greatly for the sake of the gospel. Philip Henry once declared, “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.”

Almost three centuries later a young missionary by the name of Jim Elliot would in his journals paraphrase Philip Henry’s words as he prayed about a missionary journey deep into the Ecuadorian jungles in search of a tribe known as the Auca Indians. He wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Elliot was announcing his resolve to surrender himself wholly to the task to which the Lord had called him. He understood that no matter the cost, knowing that the cost, howsoever great it may be, will always be outweighed by the rewards.

Upon first contact with the Auca Indians, Elliot was called upon to pay the ultimate price. His life was taken from him, along with every member of his group - Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, and Ed McCully. They were each speared to death and martyred for the gospel. However, they gladly and willingly gave what they could not keep that they might gain what they could not lose. And their sacrifices propelled a new generation of young people onto the mission fields (John 12:24; cf. Song 7:10; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21). This was a rich harvest (John 4:35).

Of course, this principle is not simply for the missionary, but for every Christian. It generally is a principle of essential surrender to the call, the commands, and the lordship of Jesus Christ. In particular, it should be a governing principle of every life that humbly bows before Jesus as Savior and Lord. What is a faithful Christian’s commitment to the gospel? What is the follower of Christ willing to give to see the gospel’s glorious advancement? While it may not always necessitate our physical death, it will always require our full life.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).