HOW MUCH IS A SOUL WORTH?

So often in today’s world men are distracted from the condition of their soul and enamored with the condition of their social status.  Men are notorious for maintaining a win/loss tally sheet and they compare their sheet with their circle of acquaintances to determine their level of success.  Many of them are church going men that fill a pew on Sunday mornings but that too is a part of their tally sheet to use in comparison to their peers.

When I share the gospel with men of varying ages it is not unusual to hear a response of “I’ll get to that later, right now I have other things I want to accomplish with my life.”  Not all of those things are bad; in fact, many of them are worthwhile and pleasing to God provided they are done in the way that God has them planned to be accomplished.  Education, getting married, starting a family, starting a career, buying a home, are just a few of the things they list and this list could go on for pages and pages; They’re not bad things unless they become your idol and you leave God out of the equation.

Jesus tells us “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”[1]

This seems to be a pretty clear message that doesn’t need a lot of interpretation.  The man that is trying to build up their tally sheet to compete by the world’s standards will lose it all.  Those who choose to follow the path of Christ will not look to the tally sheet for the score but will look to the Heavenly Father for His approval.  What good is it to gain everything the world has to offer but in the exchange lose your soul?  I find it truly amazing at what some men will sell their soul to gain something that will eventually tarnish and wear away!

Paul tells us “that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.[2]  Everything in this world will be subject to the bondage of decay because of sin.  We get focused on “stuff” and Satan loves to tempt us with the world’s stuff and the temporary satisfaction it can bring.  The key factor is the satisfaction is only “temporary” and cannot last so we move on to the next stuff that takes us a little deeper with Satan and a little further from God and soon we are feeling totally separated from God all together.

So some of you reading this may have been in the “tally sheet” mentality and trying to compare yourself to the world’s standards of success.  You are asking yourselves “is it too late for me to get things right with God?”  IT IS NEVER TOO LATE WHEN IT COMES TO GOD (provided that you are still breathing and your heart is beating)!  The gospel does not have an age or time limit. It is available today as it was yesterday and tomorrow it will be just as available as it is today.

It all starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Acknowledge He is the Son of God, ask him into your heart, and confess that you need a Savior because you cannot be good enough, rich enough or smart enough to buy or earn your way to heaven.  It comes by faith alone in Christ alone.  Once we have accepted that personal heart relationship scripture tells us Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.   Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”[3]  In this relationship we are living with a heaven-focused approach to life meaning that God is the center of our universe and we no longer need “stuff” to determine our success or value in the world.  We live knowing that eternity is all that really matters because all of us have an appointed time to die; we should live daily with the same desire that our Heavenly Father has and that is none should perish.  The only way this relationship is possible is if we revisit the passage from Mark where Jesus says If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

We must share the gospel if we truly have a heaven-focused heart and mind.  God’s man will use Jesus as his role model.  He will give unselfishly to those around them in need.  He will show compassion to those the world has thrown away or completely disregarded.  He will live everyday knowing that a person’s soul is eternal and if we aren’t the hands and feet of Jesus then a lost person may never know Jesus.  It makes me shudder when I read the words “in this adulterous and sinful generation” because it rings so true when we look at today’s world.  We have taken evil and made it good and we have taken truth and made it unacceptable.

God’s Word gives us a beautiful word picture of how God’s men should be living in “this adulterous and sinful generation” when the scripture that says Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.   Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”[4] 

I believe this is the meaning of living with a heaven-focused mindset.  This is what God needs from His men today.  God has made it very clear throughout scripture that this will not be an easy or painless journey yet our focus is not in the earthly realm but the eternal realm.  When we think eternally then the present becomes insignificant in comparison.  The book of James gives us the answer to dealing with trials and tribulations. He says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.[5]  This scripture uses the words “brothers and sisters” and when we look at the actual Greek text it would actually mean brothers and sisters in Christ.

God’s man must persevere if we are going to make an impact on lost souls.  There will be times when we share the gospel and it will be nothing more than planting a seed; there will be times that we are watering a previously planted seed; there will be occasions where we must tend the ground around the seed so that Satan doesn’t choke it out with his weeds of deception and lies.  There may actually be times that we get to see the Holy Spirit at work and a person accept God’s gift of grace and enter into a personal heart relationship with Jesus Christ.  In all cases we are living heaven-focused with eternity of a soul being the most important thing over all other things.

Paul reminds us “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”[6]

 


 

[1] All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.  Mark 8:34b-38

[2] Romans 8:21

[3] Colossians 3:1-2

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

[5] James 1:2-4

[6] Philippians 3:13b-14

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