"All-out" really is in the dictionary. I wasn't sure until I looked it up. I knew the term is commonly used in reference to efforts or struggles of various kinds. But here in the dictionary is this compound word, which according to Webster means "exerting all energy and employing every resource."
I fell to thinking the other day: We are all in an all-out war, that war which began incredibly in heaven itself. Revelation 12 gives picture. That surely was an all-out struggle; Satan made an all-out effort. But he met all-out resistance and was cast out of heaven. To this newly created earth he carried the great controversy. Now the revelator says that Satan fights against God and God's people with "great wrath" because he knows his time is short, and that in the last days he is to make a final all-out effort against the commandment-keeping, testimony-obeying church.
You and I are in this war. We may say, I'm a peaceful soul; I don't want to fight. But in this we have no choice. "He that is not w'th me is against me," Jesus declared. Of course, thank God, we do have a choice: we may choose to fight on the side of ultimate and complete victory. But the point is that since this is an all-out war, we will never gain an all-out victory unless we are all-out for Christ. In fact, anything less than this will not bring victory at all, but defeat.
We thrill at the prophetic view of the controversy ended, the victory won, the great company of redeemed ones on the crystal sea before the throne of God. Saved at last! We must be there! But there is only one way:
When the earthly warfare is accomplished, and the saints are all gathered home, our first theme will be the song of Moses, the servant of God. The second theme will be the song of the Lamb, the song of grace and redemption.. . . This is the theme, this is the song, Christ all and in all. . . . All unite in this song. Testimonies to Ministers, p. 433.
If you and I are to have all-out victory in this all-out warfare we must make an all-out acceptance and confession of Him who is all and in all, the one who is the all-out gift of God. The heart of God yearns over His earthly children with a love stronger than death.
In giving up His Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift. Steps to Christ, p. 21. The love of God is an all-out love; His sacrifice was an all-out sacrifice. Jesus came all the way to earth; He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin; He was in all things victorious over Satan; He became our great exemplar, our pattern, in all respects. Jesus went all the way to Gethsemane and all the way to Calvary. Then He went all the way back to heaven, there to be our all-sufficient advocate and intercessor. He purchased with His own blood the right to forgive all confessed sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is the one, the only one, "able also to save ... to the uttermost" all who "come unto God by him." And it is He who says, "Whosoever will may come." Surely, with such an all-out Saviour, the all-out gift of the all-out love of the heavenly Father, our response must be an all-out gratitude, an all-out love, an all-out service.
The heroes and heroines of Bible story whose lives so inspire us were all-out for God. Paul is an outstanding example. In Acts 26:10, 11, he recounts how vigorously he had persecuted the Christians, "being exceedingly mad against them." Saul was an all-out enemy and persecutor of God's people. But on the Damascus road, transfixed by the white shafts of pure light from heaven, he made an all-out surrender to Christ: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Later as Paul, the humble apostle, he could say: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of which I am chief."
It is significant, fascinating, and inspiring to study Paul's use of the little word all in his writings. The "all" was in his writings because the "all" was in his life. This all-out quality in Paul's life is what gave authority to his preaching and effectiveness to his ministry. When once Paul was in this business of being a Christian, he was in it for all he was worth! (And that attitude makes any man worth a great deal!) What a contrast between Paul's ringing messages and the lame, tame pretensions of modern preaching. Someone has characterized the uncertain and mediocrity of the modern pulpit in these words: "You must repent after a fashion, you must be converted in a measure, or you will be damned, to a certain extent."
But this was not Paul's way. "All have sinned.- "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Paul urged all to come to an all-sufficient Saviour for the all of salvation. He was concerned that Christians go all the way with their Saviour. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." Paul uses such significant words as "all," "every," "whole," or "wholly," literally scores of times.
What a man for God he was He could say, "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" But at the same time he declared, "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. . . . I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:1, 19-22).
Before their complete conversion, two of Christ's followers came to Him with the request: "Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand." Too many of today's followers apparently have the same desire: "Grant that we may sit"! This was not Paul's way. Read once more in 2 Corinthians 11 his recitation of his all-out ministry: the labors, stripes, imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks, journeyings, perils, weariness, painfulness, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, and the care of the churches. Then there was his "thorn in the flesh" from which he thrice sought deliverance. But there is also his resigned response, in faith and confidence, to God's assuring promise, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
It is this all-out experience with an all-sufficient God that Paul commends to us. Thus he pleads that the Christian may have wisdom, knowledge, diligence, grace, patience, lowliness and meekness, prayer and perseverance, boldness, good works, gladness and joy, and that these may characterize all his life.
He gives us the secret of success in carrying out the will of God: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:12). Then he gives unhesitating assurance to those who yield their all to the purposes of God: "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (verse 19). In view of this unlimited (from God's standpoint) provision for our lives and our service, he pleads for full and complete stewardship of life:
But this I say, He which soyyeth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loy eth a cheerful giver.
These are the marks of the all-out Christian. The call of Jesus and the urgency of the time to which we have come demand this kind of experience. The warfare is about ended; time is running out; Jesus is soon to come. A quick work and rapid movements are just before us. We face an unfinished task, the wrath of the dragon, the final thrust of battle against the remnant. This is no time for a passive, folded-hands experience; no time for uncertain, muddled, twilight thinking and acting. This is the time of all times when we must pray as if all depends upon God, and work as if all depended upon us. No longer dare we put up "PRIVATE—NO ADMITTANCE" signs on some of the pet chambers of our soul as the Holy Spirit visits us. It is time we abhorred the practice of giving God's cause the leftovers of our means after satisfying all our fancied needs. It is time to cease talking of "spreading the gospel" or of "holding the fort" or of "letting our lights shine." It is time to talk about a "finished work" in our own lives and in the world!
In view of the "all" of God's salvation and His provision for our lives, how sacred a trust is life, how precious an opportunity! Some months ago I went through an experience that deeply impressed upon my heart my obligation to be all and to do all and to give all for the Master's cause.
More than five weeks of a two-and-a-halfmonth itinerary in the South American Division had been spent in Brazil. Then after a brief stop at division headquarters and a meeting in Montevideo, my companion in travel and labor, Pastor Mario Rasi, and I were to go by plane to Buenos Aires for an important series of meetings. In the morning when we were to depart, all planes were grounded by a heavy fog. Then plans were made for us to go by ferry ship on an overnight crossing of the Rio de La Plata estuary. Hundreds of passengers were on board when the Ciudad de Asuncion set sail about ten o'clock in the evening. Pastor Rasi and I retired to our separate rooms. About 2:00 A.M., for some unaccountable reason, the ship got out of its course and struck a submerged wreck of a vessel. All lights went out, and the ship began to sink.
There were not enough lifeboats—only six for the several hundred passengers. One of these was never launched. The first one that did get into the water sank immediately, filled with passengers. There were not enough life jackets. Pastor Rasi was issued one, but I got only a narrow life belt. Amidst the fear and confusion word finally came that the ship was resting on the bottom of the channel, the two top decks would remain out of the water, and that all should quietly await rescue; all would be safe. Then anxiety subsided somewhat. But it was very cold, dark, and foggy. Water temperature that night averaged about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. We resigned ourselves to a long and cold wait.
Then to our consternation fire broke out and spread rapidly through the vessel. Now there was wild fear and excitement. All must abandon ship, and there were not enough lifeboats for even half the passengers. I had found Pastor Rasi. We shook hands, committed each other to God's care, and said good-by, hoping to stay together, but fearing that we could not. Even more quickly than we had feared, we were separated. I was never to see him again on this earth. I spent five hours in the chilling winter waters, holding to a small wooden platform. I heard pitiful cries of suffering and terror. I saw many lose consciousness and drift away in the cold darkness. I thought my time had come. It almost had, for I was very close to unconsciousness when rescue came.
Everything I had with me for a long itinerary was lost that night. I underwent some excruciating suffering and anxiety for a few hours. Yet I know that my life was providentially saved, and that the miracle was extended to spare me any serious aftereffects from exhaustion and exposure. My companion lost his life. Why God allowed this I do not know. I simply know that "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
Perhaps one never fully realizes how precious life is until he is definitely faced with its loss. When I think how the hand of God reached down to hold me up in those dark, icy waters, my gratitude takes on new dimensions. Many things crossed my mind as I floated for anxious, agonizing hours. I thought of my ministry and thanked God that I had had the precious privilege of serving in His cause for a few years. I felt that a place in His cause was worth more than all else beside. Now that the Lord has thus indicated that He still has work for me to do, every birthday anniversary I celebrate from here on will have new significance. Opportunities afforded during the Sabbath school hour to express gratitude with a gift for the Birthday-Thank Offering will have real meaning.
We need more than we do to cultivate the grace of gratitude. If we go all out for Christ we cannot help being thankful for the all-out salvation He provides. Every day we are preserved through the love and goodness of God. Deliverance may not always be spectacular, but it is nonetheless miraculous and wonderful. Every day we ought to tell our Lord how much we appreciate Him. We ought to thank Him that we may labor for Him. Then when opportunities, such as the Birthday-Thank Offering, are afforded us, a willing, liberal, tangible gift will not only say Thank You to the Saviour but will help others to know Him and to swell the mighty chorus of gratitude and praise to which He is entitled. This I have resolved to do.