Go All In
// ILLUSTRATION //
I read a letter that was published by Bill Graham.
The letter was written by a young communist to his girlfriend, breaking off the relationship with her because of his devotion to the communist cause. The letter was given to her pastor who in turn sent it to Dr. Billy Graham. He published it.
“We communists have a high casualty rate. We are the ones who get shot and hung and ridiculed and fired from our jobs and in every other way made as uncomfortable as possible. A certain percentage of us get killed or imprisoned. We live in virtual poverty. We turn back to the part every penny we make above what is absolutely necessary to keep us alive.
We communists do not have the time or the money for many movies or concerts or T-bone steaks or decent homes or new cars. We’ve been described as fanatics. We are fanatics. Our lives are dominated by one great, overshadowing factor: the struggle for world communism. We have a philosophy of life which no amount of money could buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves into a great movement of humanity; and if our personal lives seem hard or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us, in his small way, is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind.
There is one thing in which I am dead earnest about, and that is the communist cause. It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife, my mistress, my bread and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night. Its hold on me grows, not lessens, as time goes on; therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating it to the force which both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, looks, ideas, and actions according to how they affect the communist cause, and by their attitude toward it. I’ve already been in jail because of my ideals, and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.”
“Call to Commitment” by Billy Graham
// INTRODUCTION //
Now, that’s commitment.
Have you ever been that committed to something?
Have you ever been that committed to something that it was your driving force? That it was your all in all? That it was your sole motivation? That you would sacrifice comfort, money, relationships, and your own life, for that commitment?
This is hardcore, right?
But this morning, I wonder, are you this committed Jesus?
You see, this young communist super committed, he was all in – but for what? For the idea of communism!?
We have the promise of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the power of the Holy Spirit, and a relationship with God Almighty through Jesus. How much more should we be committed to our cause – to the Kingdom’s cause?
Does anyone in here like to play poker?
Even if you don’t play poker, you’ve probably seen things like the “World Series of Poker” on TV.
One of the exciting things about poker is watching the pot go up. As the pot goes higher and higher, you feel the tension rise, the excitement rise, and things get more serious.
But certainly, one of the most exciting times of poker is when someone goes all in. When someone goes all in, they put all their chips in the pot. Everything they got. They put it all in there. They are betting everything they have on this one hand. They are all in. There is nothing left over to fall back on. They aren’t holding on to anything, they’ve put it all on the table.
This morning, I want to challenge us to go all in for Jesus. To put all our chips on the table. To hold nothing back.
// SERMON SERIES: LIVING WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL //
This morning, we continue our series called “Living Worthy of the Gospel”. In this series, we will be looking at portions of scripture from Philippians.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel
Paul is saying, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Conduct yourselves, live in such a way that is deserving of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? The good news that even though we have all disobeyed God in one way or another, and even though that disobedience deserves judgement and wrath, God loved us anyway. And in His love, He sent His Son Jesus to suffer the judgment and wrath that we deserve, so that if we only believe in Jesus, we will receive forgiveness for all our sin (disobedience).
The gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel then is full and free deliverance from sin on the basis of simple faith in Jesus Christ.
In Philippians 3:5-9, Paul essentially said, everything I once thought was valuable, everything that I once gave my life to, now I see that it is all garbage compared to knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus, and receiving this great gospel is of supreme worth.
Experiencing freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, freedom from shame, and inheriting eternal life, receiving forgiveness for our sins, and obtaining righteousness through Jesus… Nothing else compares.
What a great blessing, what great mercy, what great grace, what great news, now live like it.
Paul is basically saying, you’ve been saved, washed clean of all your sins, delivered from bondages, transformed in your heart and mind, now live like it.
Live worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the course of this series, we will look at various passages from Philippians and unfold what it looks like to live worthy of the gospel.
// SCRIPTURE: PHILIPPIANS 1:21-26 //
For this morning, we are in Philippians 1:21-26.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
// GO ALL IN //
In our last message in the series, we said that living a life worthy of the gospel means, number one, to suffer well.
Today, we are going to see that a life worthy of the gospel is a life that goes all in.
// WHAT IS PAUL SAYING? //
Verse 21 is the key – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Paul says, for me, to live is to serve Jesus.
For Paul, life wasn’t about getting rich, or being happy, or being comfortable, or raising kids. Life was about serving Jesus.
He says, whether I live or die, my life is all about Jesus. And as long as I’m alive, I expect to bear fruit for Jesus. He says virtually the same thing in Romans 14:8 –
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
Remember, Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians from prison. He is in prison at this time. He had been stoned, he had been attacked and beaten, he had been persecuted, all for his faith in Jesus. How could he continue on, and still be strong in his faith? For Paul, whether he was in prison or in paradise, Jesus was his life and joy. And whether he was to die or to live on, he knew he was in God’s hands.
In verse 21, Paul also says, “to die is gain.”
For Paul, dying meant going to be the Lord. And that was an exciting thing for him. He even says in verse 23 that he desired to depart and to be with Jesus, for that is far better for him.
Departing and going to be with Christ meant freedom from his condition, freedom from prison, and freedom from his trouble-filled life.
Being with Christ meant being face-to-face with the maker of Heaven and earth, the one who loves us more than we could ever understand. Being with Christ meant being in paradise. Paul says, that is a far better situation for me.
// WHY WOULD PAUL FEEL THIS WAY? //
Why would Paul feel this way? What caused Paul to think this way about life and death? How does he come to the conclusion that the life is about serving Jesus, and that death is only gain – that come life or death, it’s all about Jesus?
He understood what it really meant to follow Jesus.
He understood that Jesus’ call to follow Him was not just a call to attend church on Sundays. Church is good and necessary, but it is meant to lead us to a life of obedience to God.
He understood that following Jesus was not just acknowledging that He is real. It was not just about a one-time confession of faith.
He understood that following Jesus was not just about his own ticket to Heaven. He even said in Philippians 1:24 that it is more necessary for him to remain alive so that he could help their progress and joy in the faith. He wasn’t inward focused, just glad that he was going to Heaven. Rather, he recognized his role to help other people make it to Heaven.
He understood that following Jesus meant denying himself. No longer simply pursing his own desires and passions, but rather, putting his own will on the shelf.
He understood that following Jesus meant taking up his cross. Essentially, embracing God’s will, no matter what the cost.
He understood that Jesus said, “whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
He understood that Jesus said, “whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
Paul understood that to follow Jesus, to be a Christian, meant to go all in.
// HOW DO WE LIVE THIS OUT? //
Practically speaking, what does it look like for us to live this out?
What does it look like to go all in – to put all our chips on the table?
1. Going all in involves taking all our talents and using them for the Kingdom, each and every day. A talent is something you’re naturally good at.
- Maybe you’re naturally gifted at singing – use it to glorify God. Maybe join the worship team at church.
- Maybe you’re naturally gifted at dealing with children – use it to glorify God. Maybe get involved in the children’s ministry.
- Maybe you’re naturally a talker – use it to glorify God. Talk to people about Jesus. Evangelize!
Whatever you’re naturally gifted at, use it for the Kingdom.
2. Going all in involves taking all our skills and using them for the Kingdom, each and every day.
- Maybe you’re skilled at construction – use it to glorify God. Maybe you can build houses for the less fortunate. Maybe you can donate some time to helping fix up someone’s home in the name of the Lord.
- Maybe you’re skilled at organizing things – use it to glorify God. Maybe you can organize outreach events.
Whatever you’re skilled at, use it for the Kingdom.
3. Going all in involves taking all our resources, our money, our mouth, our hands, our feet, our time, our energy, our job, our property, our very life, everything, and using them for the Kingdom, each and every day.
- Going all in should cause us to be more concerned about obeying God, than about what we’re going to eat for dinner.
- Going all in should cause us to be more concerned about spending time in prayer, than about catching our favorite TV show.
- Going all in should cause us to be more concerned about telling someone about Jesus, than about what that person might think or say about us.
- Going all in should cause us to be more concerned with God’s will, than our own will.
- Going all in should cause us to be concerned with pleasing God, than pleasing our family.
I think it’s best summed up in Galatians 2:20 –
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
// CONCLUSION //
Going all in does not mean that you are perfect. It does not mean that you do everything right.
But it does mean that you are committed to the Kingdom, above everything else.
We are all works in progress. But living a life worthy of the gospel involves commitment, it involves going all in.
So, I want to close with the same question I asked in the beginning.
We read about the young communist, and how he was committed to the core to his ideals.
Are you committed to Jesus, to His Kingdom? Are you all in?
This morning, I want to challenge you to a deeper level of commitment.
- Maybe you haven’t gone all in with your money. I’ll give this much, but that’s it! I want to challenge you to go all in.
- Maybe you haven’t gone all in with your time. I’ll commit to 1 hour on Sunday, but that’s it. I want to challenge you to go all in.
We give a whole lot of our time, effort, energy, and resources, to make sure we get the bills paid. We give a whole lot of time, effort, energy, and resources, to make sure we put food on the table. I challenge you to put God above even these things.
You might say, “Pastor, that doesn’t make sense. I need to pay my bills. I need to put food on the table.” I know that. And guess what? God knows that too. He knows what you need. But in Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Maybe you haven’t gone all in with something. Today, I challenge you to go all in.
At the end of the day, I want you to be able to lay your head down each night without regret – knowing that you went all in for Jesus – that you held nothing back – to God be the glory.