Rightly Appraising the Worth of Your Soul (Mark Sermon 40)
February 05, 2023 | Andy Davis
Idolatry, Exalting Christ, Two Ways to Live
Our salvation depends on valuing Christ and his Kingdom above the entire collection of goods and experiences in the world.
- Sermon Transcript -
Turn to your Bibles this morning as we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark, and looking at just a couple of verses at the end of Mark 8. The end of Mark 8 is very powerful, a very rich set of scriptures, and I want to zero in on it this morning.
As I do, I want to ask you a question. What is the most valuable thing on earth? When we think about value, value is usually economically evaluated by its price. The world’s entire economic system is based on setting a price for everything. Economists speak of the theory of price, which most people know as the law of supply and demand, probably you've heard of that. The price for any good or services is based on the supply of those goods and services, compared to the demand for them. In market economies around the world, the price of gold is high, because there's a very high demand and relatively low supply. Conversely, the price for salt is much lower. Because while there's a strong demand for it, it's so plentiful, the oceans are full of it, so the price is low.
Have you noticed prices higher than a few years ago? Have you had any sticker shock at the supermarket at all? Perhaps you've had some sticker shock at the gas pump. We are in inflation now, we're told, so the prices are getting higher. I don't know what the remedy is. No, I'm not going there. I'm not spending the whole sermon on inflation. But we've noticed, the price of beef, the price of other things is just much higher than it used to be.
When it comes to luxury items such, as a one-of-a-kind painting by a renowned artist like a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh, an art appraiser is skilled at knowing the history of art, the demand, the recent demand in the art market for an oil painting by one of those masters, what it's sold for at an auction in the past, and the prices is set accordingly. Luxury items like high-end watches, for example, like Patek Philippe, they set a range of prices based on entry level for that watch, $20,000. Can you imagine spending $20,000 on a wristwatch? But that's just entry level. They can go as high as $1.5 million. The prices are set by the quality of the materials, workmanship, the artistry, complications of the call, and demand.
This price evaluation, the valuation of worth, of relative worth, is at the center of two of Jesus' parables, his most famous parables. They're in Matthew 13. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy, went out and sold everything he had, and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, one translation says, a “pearl of great price", he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Market value and relative pricing are essential to both of those parables.
In the first parable, the man, you can picture him digging in a field with a shovel maybe, and a shovel hits some metal, some clank or something like that. He hears the sound he's not used to hearing, so he spends more time digging and then finds, let's say a treasure chest. You could picture it that way, and he somehow gets it out. He pries off the lock, opens the heavy lid to this chest, and finds incalculable treasure inside. Jesus doesn't say what or how much, but this man knows it's the treasure of a lifetime. It's certainly worth more than the sum total of all of his possessions in his life. Everything he owns in the world is worth less than what's in that treasure box. He's filled with joy, because he knows that. He hides the treasure again, then sells everything that he owns to buy that field. The whole time he is filled with joy, because he knows the field & its treasure is worth it. The treasure in the box is worth greater than anything he owns in the world.
In the second parable, the merchant is looking for fine pearls. That man is an expert in his field, and his field is pearls. He knows pearls better than anyone else. He's been studying pearls his entire life. One of the most precious commodities in the ancient world was pearls. Worth far more by weight than any other precious substance. He already has a collection of pearls. He's a pearl merchant. But he's constantly searching for more pearls, better pearls. One day, what a day, he finds the most perfect pearl he's ever seen in his life. He knows pearls like you don't know pearls. But this man knows his business, and he knows that this one pearl is worth more than his entire inventory. So, he sells all of those pearls, so he can have enough money to buy this one pearl, he gladly sells it to buy this one pearl.
What is the treasure hidden in the field? What is the pearl of great price? I would argue, it is Jesus Christ himself. It is the kingdom. So I've heard, so it is. Jesus is worth more than anything that we have in this world. Our salvation depends on that kind of valuation, of valuing Christ and his kingdom above the entire collection of goods and experiences there are in this world. The merchant's mindset, valuation, pricing, esteem, weighing all of these skills tell you Jesus is worth everything.
But maybe a corollary of that whole analysis, is the estimation of the worth of our souls, our eternal souls. We need to do the same kind of relative valuation, comparing the worth and value of our souls to the things that we could gain in this world. What is the marketplace or the market price for your soul? That's what these two verses ask. Look at verse 36- 37, "What would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?" Or, what can a man give an exchange for his soul?
"What is the marketplace or the market price for your soul?"
At the end of your life, your life of achievement, you will stand before Christ and give him an account on Judgment Day. The issue hanging in the balance on Judgment Day is the eternal destiny of your soul. The central point of this text and of my sermon is this, your soul has infinite worth, infinite value, more than the net worth of the entire world. Your soul will either be eternally alive, living in the presence of God in heaven, or eternally dying under His wrath in hell. The world and all of its pleasures and pains is passing away, and will soon disappear, but your soul will endure forever in one of those two places. Thus, Jesus is warning us to make certain that we don't lose our soul.
I . Understanding the Context in the Gospel of Mark
Let's step back now for a moment and understand the context. The last time I preached on Mark, I preached on what I considered to be, and still do, the greatest challenge of your life or mine as a Christian, the challenge to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus. That has a context. Jesus is there with His disciples in Caesarea Philippi talking about His identity. “Who do people say that I am? What about you? Who do you say that I am?” Then you have Peter's full confession, in Matthew, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus then makes this shocking prediction to His disciples. Verse 31, 32, "Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priest and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again, he spoke plainly about this. Peter was shocked, and took Jesus aside,", verse 32, ..."and began to rebuke him. Never Lord.", he said, "This shall never happen to you." Then Jesus turns, and doesn't do it privately as Peter sought to do, but publicly rebuked Peter because He knew that Peter was speaking for all of them. They all would've said it.
He rebuked Peter, verse 33, “'Get behind me, Satan,’” He said. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. ‘“ Then He issued that call to the crowd and to all of His disciples, the call indeed to the whole world. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.'"
Peter's immediate motive in rebuking Jesus was not so much concern about Jesus, although Jesus was the center of his hopes, certainly that was there. But we have to imagine that his concerns were selfish. Peter's conceptions of his own future were wrapped up in Jesus, the king and Jesus' kingdom as he understood it. He wanted to save his life in this world, as he conceived it, and he wanted in so doing, to make it as rich, and pleasureful, and comfortable, and powerful, and we could add some other things, as he could. That's what he wanted. Jesus said to him, "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man." You're thinking in a human way about my kingdom, not in God's way.
As we walked through last time, He gave this call. “Deny yourself is to say no to yourself, to your selfish drives, your selfish agenda, your fleshly yearnings. Say no to that. Say no to yourself. Take up your cross means be willing to die for me and for the gospel. Follow me means to obey me, to obey what I tell you, and to imitate me.” And Luke adds, do it daily. Deny yourself daily. Take up the cross daily. That's the context then of the statement we're looking at today.
But here, in these verses that we're looking at, Jesus turns up the intensity further. The call on the disciples is to realize that anything that hinder them from following Christ was actually an ultimate threat to them, a threat to their eternal happiness. He wanted to give the disciples a sense of the immense worth and value of the soul. "For what would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? Or what could a man give in exchange for his soul?” From this text, I want to focus on two issues, the world and what it means to gain it, and the soul and what it means to lose it. Then I want to zero in on Jesus' two questions. What would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? And what would a man give in exchange for his soul? I want to seek to sharpen these questions to a fine point. I'm going to urge you to be absolutely certain that your soul's final state is of the utmost importance to you, that you have a proper valuation of your soul. I want to plead with you to be certain that your sins will be forgiven through faith in Jesus, and that you'll be welcomed on that final day into heaven and not cast away into hell. To help you do this, I'm going to focus next week more on kind of the final thing, the inducement and the warning, there's an inducement and warning. We're going to develop that more next week.
In verse 38 it says, "If anyone's ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation of him, will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His father's glory with the holy angels?" And then Matthew's version of this account, Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man is going to come in His father's glory with His angels and then He will reward each person for whatever he has done.” Judgment Day is coming, and so the inducements are positive to be in that world of glory called heaven. And they are negative, that you would not be condemned to the world of torment. Those are the inducements.
II. The World and What It Means to Gain It
Let's zero in on the first, the world and what it means to gain it. Look at verse 36, "What would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" First of all, no one has ever accomplished this, though many have tried to do it. Jesus is clearly using hyperbole. He's using an exaggerated statement to make a point. Many empire builders of all ages have sought to control the world and have been unable to do so. The largest empire in history by sheer land mass, contiguous land mass, was that of Kublai Khan, Genghis Khann’s descendant, the Mongolian empire in the year 1260. That was the peak, 12.8 million square miles, larger than the Soviet Union, five times larger than the empire of Alexander the Great. However, for all of that, they only achieved 24.6% of the habitable land mass of the earth, which has 52 million square miles of habitable land. They tried, but that's as far as they got, and they didn't hold it for long.
Others have sought to just kind of corner the market on one little part of the world. Like John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, at its pinnacle of influence, owned 90% of the petroleum industry in the world. What would that be worth today? 90% of the petroleum industry in the world? As a result of that control, Rockefeller was the first billionaire in the world. Some valuations of John D Rockefeller's fortune put him at present value of $420 billion. Perhaps the richest man in history, depends how you read it. So he, for a little while, controlled most of the oil, just the oil. During the age of the great American industrialists, the titans of industry were always seeking a monopoly in one form or another. Railroads with the Vanderbilts, Carnegie with his steel, J.P. Morgan with his finance, but no one could control all in any of those areas, even though they tried to do it.
But Jesus is saying, even if you could gain the whole world, if it cost you your soul, it wouldn't be worth it. The world is attractive, you should admit it. Certainly, Psalm 73 speaks a beautiful theological truth in verse 25, "Whom have I in heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you." That's beautiful, and it's true ultimately, but frankly, the world is alluring. It is appealing. The world has some natural attractions to us that are not corrupt. The world is physically beautiful, the beauty of the earth. There's the pleasures of food, and travel, and entertainment, and hobbies, a good novel, an exciting movie, an absorbing board game, sports, things like that. The value of the esteem of other people. The satisfaction of earthly successes in business, or in academics, or athletics, or other fields of endeavor. All of those should be enjoyed as good gifts of God. But any and all of them can become idols, if they become the reason for your existence.
"The satisfaction of earthly successes in business, or in academics, or athletics, or other fields of endeavor. All of those should be enjoyed as good gifts of God. But any and all of them can become idols, if they become the reason for your existence."
When we talk about the allure of the world, the lusts of the eye, the lusts of the flesh, the boastful pride of life, 1st John 2 talks about that, the allure, all of those things are ultimately empty. Power, for example. The most powerful military conqueror, and the most successful military conqueror in history, Alexander the Great, never lost a single battle in 12 years of campaigning. But at the end of his conquest, he didn't want to stop, but his army mutinied, way out near the Indus River in India. They were done. Battle after battle, he just sat down and wept that there were no more battles to fight. Picture him weeping there, and ask him what pleasure all this conquest brought him? He was dead soon after that.
What about wealth? The wealthiest man from the ancient world was a king named Croesus, the King of Lydia, in modern day Turkey. He ruled from 560 to 545 BC. Gold from the mines, and from the sands of the river Pactolus, filled his coffers to overflowing, an overwhelmingly wealthy man. But all that did is attract the attention of a certain Cyrus the Great of Persia, who paid him a visit with his army, and then sentenced him to be burned to death alive. As the flames drew near, you could well imagine, that the wealth of Croesus brought him no joy at all. He would gladly have traded all of it to live another day.
What about wisdom? Solomon was said to be the wisest man that had ever lived up to that point, but his wisdom brought him no ultimate happiness. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:18, "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." The more knowledge, the more grief. Some of the most brilliant, some of the most intelligent people in history, have struggled intensely with depression and mental illness.
Then there's fame. I don't actually know why anyone would want that. But I remember, thinking about fame when back in 1992, the Olympics in Barcelona, they put together the Dream Team, the basketball team which had Michael Jordan. There was a documentary made about the Dream Team, and Jordan was walking along the street, and the camera stopped and panned back, and there was this huge poster, hanging down the side of a six-story building of Michael Jordan dunking. So there's the real Michael Jordan under this massive six story big poster, and he just kind of looked up at himself dunking. But if you look at famous people like him, he couldn't go out of the hotel room at night without being mobbed like a rockstar. Some famous people are constantly hounded by paparazzi and and would yearn for a simple life of obscurity. Fame wasn't all that it was cut out to be.
What about pleasure and a world craving pleasure? Some people it seems, have cornered the market on hedonism. They go from one kind of pleasure sight to the next. They drink in the best foods, finest of wines, the most beautiful scenery. I remember reading a book by a venture capitalist, Tom Perkins, who sank $150 million into what was at that time, the largest privately owned sailboat in the world. That was his goal, the Maltese Falcon. But the pleasure of that distinction apparently lasted only one year, because some other mogul built a bigger one, and then Tom Perkins sold his. It just didn't bring in much joy after that.
Then there's beauty, physical beauty. I think about Hollywood movie stars, female movie stars, who are willing to trade their health for constant cosmetic surgery to stay in the game, but they can't oppose the continual march of time. I wonder if there are some that have seen their beauty fading, and seen spots in movies being given to younger starlets, and they know their moment has passed, and how depressing that is.
All of these allurements are part of God's physical world. None of them are evil in themselves, but all of them have led countless souls astray in their quest. What does it mean to gain the world? It's power, wealth, wisdom, fame, pleasure, beauty. Death stands over every one of these, and turns them all to dust in the wind.
III. The Soul, and What It Means To Lose It
But how much more agony would come to the damned when they consider for what paltry things they exchanged their immortal souls? Satan is willing constantly, in some way, to stand and broker a trade. Remember the temptation of Jesus? He offered him all the kingdoms of the world in his splendor. He would've given the entire world to Jesus, but Jesus didn't accept it.
There's a famous story well known of Dr. Faustus and the Faustian bargain. The whole idea of selling your soul to the devil. Dr. Faustus, in that book, makes a deal with the devil in exchange for his body and soul, that he gives to the devil in the end. The man is to receive supernatural powers, and pleasures, successes, for twenty-four years. The devil agrees to the trade. Dr. Faustus enjoys the pleasures of sin for a season, but his doom is sealed. At the end of the twenty-four years, Faustus attempts to thwart the devil's plans, but he meets a frightful demise, nonetheless.In common speech when somebody's doing really, really well, sometimes you'll hear it's like they must have sold their soul to the devil for it. Something like that. That's where that whole idea comes from.
I want you to know, theologically, Satan has no such authority to make a trade. Satan's going to be very busy on Judgment Day. He will be condemned to the Lake of Fire himself. He has no such power. But he is the one behind the world system that's alluring souls astray. That's what it means when it says the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.
What is the soul, and what does it mean to lose it? What is your soul? It's more than merely your inner self, like your true self, or your very self, something like that. The idea by that is that, by pursuing worldly things, money, fame, power, pleasure, you'll no longer be true to yourself. You'll kind of lose your true identity kind of thing. You'll stop being the person you want to be. None of your friends that you grew up with will know you anymore. They won't recognize you. You'll have a big head, you'll have been changed. All of that's true, I think, usually, but that's not what Jesus is talking about. Not at all.
For He goes on to discuss the terrorist Judgment Day after the Second Coming. I think it's more than just your physical life, just being alive. The ESV in Matthew 16:26 gives you that sense by its translation."For what would it profit a man if he gains the whole world in forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?" I understand that's a valid way to translate the Greek word behind it, but I don't think that's what Jesus is talking about here.
A number of years ago, I came across a story by Leo Tolstoy, How Much Land Does a Man Need? I've quoted a number of times in a number of sermons, and not going back through it again. But in that story, the central character of the home is just constantly moving on to get a bigger, and bigger, and bigger, chunk of Bashkir land, and ends up literally physically dying, and by the effort, and they take the shovel that he carried with him in the circuit as he was going along this land, and they dug six feet down and buried him. That answered the question Tolstoy was asking, how much land does he need? That much, enough to bury him.
Again, I don't think this is what Jesus is referring to. It is true that the pursuit of these things can have detrimental physical effects on you, it might even lead to your death. But that's not what Jesus is talking about here. We know that, because He's actually challenging His disciples to be willing to die as martyrs, literally to die physically, for Him and for the kingdom. Some will, his apostles, most of them did die as martyrs. That doesn't make sense. It doesn't line up, that’s not what he's talking about, your physical life on earth. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. So that's not what He's referring to. No.
The soul of verse 36, Mark 8:36 is more than that. The soul is that core center of your being. The immaterial part of you, that is able to have a love relationship with God, both now and eternally. It is able to be conscious, aware, it knows, and can relate to and love God. That's what the soul is. It makes you the person you are, unique. To love God, to speak to God, to obey God, to choose God, the core of your being. That's what the soul is, an immaterial part of you housed in the tent of your bodies. Peter talked about the husk, the flesh of your body that was housed there. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.
The concept of an immortal soul is not from Greek philosophy, as some scholars will tell you, it's a biblical concept. For what would it be that is absent from the body but present with the Lord but your soul? There is an immaterial part of you that's housed in your body, that's your soul. What does it mean then, to lose your soul? To lose your soul would be to be condemned to hell by Jesus, the judge of all the earth. The soul is in peril, in grave danger, of perishing. As in John 3:16, "What would it profit someone if he or..." John 3:16, "For God's so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not," what? "Perish."
What's the perishing there? It's hell. It's dying forever in hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. To hear Jesus, the judge of all the earth say, as in Matthew 25:41, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." That's what it means to lose your soul, to hear that spoken about you. That's what it means to lose your soul.
In Luke 16, the rich man was in agony in hell. He yearned for Lazarus to come dip his finger in the water, and cool his tongue in the fire. That's what it means to lose your soul, to be there, in eternal conscious torment. How does that happen? How is the soul thus lost? Jesus in our text pits the pursuit of the world against the welfare of the soul. The seeking of the whole world here, in this sense, is the enemy of your soul. Deeper still, the Bible's answer to this vital question is simple, "By sin is the soul lost,” unforgiven sin. As Jesus makes it plain, souls are lost by Judgment Day's evaluation, the evaluation of the judge of all the earth of your life choices, of what you did with your life. Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His father, with His angels, and then He will repay every man according to his deeds." That's Judgment Day. So the great issue of your life is simply this. Will I lose my soul on Judgment Day or not?
IV. Jesus’ Two Piercing Questions
To make this clear, He then asks these two penetrating questions, both focus on the terror of that moment on Judgment Day. First of all, a question of profit, verse 36, "What would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" So here He uses business terms, gain and lost. It's accounting terms in the Greek. Like profit and loss in an accountant's ledger book. It has to do with relative value and worth.
The clear implication is, that the eternal soul is worth more, is worth more than any physical thing in the universe. That's the logic of this. It's an astonishing thought. All of the gold, and the silver, and the diamonds, and the real estate, and all the stuff, the physical stuff of the, if you added it all up, it comes short of the value of a single human soul. That's the logic here. There's not a single human being on earth for which that is not true. It doesn't matter how high or low a person rises economically. You could imagine some orphan in a city, somewhere in Bangladesh, picking through garbage. It would be foolish for that orphan to trade his or her soul for the entire world, physical world, it'd be foolish. So also, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, same thing. It would be foolish for that individual to trade their soul for the entire world. It would not make a difference if it was an addict, strung out on heroin in Amsterdam, it would be foolish for that person to trade their soul for the entire world. There are no worthless human beings. For no matter what their outward condition, no matter how high or low they've attained in the achievements of the world, how educated or literate, wealthy or poor, it doesn't matter. They have a possession of infinite value, their soul. And to forfeit, to lose that soul, is the most terrifyingly foolish thing that any person could ever do.
"All of the gold, and the silver, and the diamonds, and the real estate, and all the stuff, … if you added it all up, it comes short of the value of a single human soul."
Then, it's a question of exchange in verse 37, "Or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?" Again, the language of commerce, of making an equitable trade. I can hardly say the next sentence in my sermon. Imagine yourself hearing, concerning you, this dreadful sentence. "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." And then, a holy angel is dispatched to tie you hand and foot, and throw you outside into the darkness where there'll be weeping and mashing teeth. The horror of it comes crashing down. You can scarcely believe that it refers to you. You always tried to be a good person, basically a good person, but none of that means anything. You cherish memories of good deeds, or religious moments in your life, or a notion that a God who condemned people is not a God you wanted to be with anyway. All of these things don't mean anything at that moment. All of that reasoning will be blown away like a wispy cobweb at that moment. For now, the sentence has been spoken of you.
As you're nearing the searing heat of the Lake of Fire, what would you give in that moment in exchange for your soul? Of course, it'll be too late then, because you'll have nothing to give. Everything you thought was yours, wasn't yours, it was a stewardship. It's all been taken from you. But imagine, just for argument, that it hadn't. Suppose you still retained your whole, the lot, all of it still yours. What percentage of it would you give at that moment? Up to half for your soul? What would you give in exchange for your soul at that moment? What wouldn't you give? That's the point here. Then it will be too late.
The time to face these two questions is now. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." [2 Corinthians 6:2]. So the question goes back to your present life. The moment is now. When you can decide what you will love, what you'll pursue, what you'll do with your life, what exchanges you can make. What would you give now that your soul might be saved? We're not saved by the exchange. you're saved by simple faith in Jesus, like the thief on the cross. You don't earn anything by the exchange, none of that. But we're just following the logic of this verse here.
Is there anything that you now possess that you fear that you would lose if you turned to Christ and followed him fully? Get rid of that fear, it’s hindering your soul. Are you afraid of losing the esteem of your unsaved friends if you followed Christ? Are you afraid of losing a lucrative career if you followed Christ? Are you afraid of not having fun in life if you follow Christ? The pleasures, and joys, and possessions, and freedoms, what do these verses say to you? Cast those fears aside. They are the enemy of your eternal soul. Which of those things could you rightly say, "That's too big a cost for me to pay for my soul. God, you can have anything but not that.” Is there any such thing for you?
V. Jesus’ Two Compelling Reasons
Now, Jesus' two compelling reasons. We'll walk more thoroughly through them next week, God willing, the coming judgment and the coming glory, these are the reasons why. Verse 38, "If anyone's ashamed of me and of my words and this adulterous and sinful generation of him, will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His father's glory with the holy angels?" Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man is going to come in His father's glory with His angels and then He'll award each person according to what he has done." Jesus' two great arguments for wisdom about gaining the whole world are clear. Judgment Day is coming, with the terror and threat of hell standing over every human being on the face of the earth. And secondly, eternal glory is coming. He's coming in the father's glory. The new heaven, the new earth are going to be lit up with that beauty and that glory. You don't want to miss it. Those are the inducements to making a wise choice when it comes to the gospel.
First and foremost, of course, repent and trust in Christ. That's the pressure of these verses. Trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus came to save lost people. The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. That's the issue here of losing a soul. Jesus came to save your soul. Do you not see the infinite worth of Jesus' blood? How one man, the God man, in one day bought the souls, the infinite souls, of a multitude greater than anyone could count from every tribe, language, people, and nation. It says in Revelation 5, "By your blood, you have purchased people for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation." In one day He bought them. Incredible. The worth and value of Jesus's blood. Trust in Christ. Jesus took into himself the wrath of God.
As I was driving this morning here with my daughter, Daphne, we were talking about that story about Elijah, Elijah with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. The nation was thoroughly corrupt, and pursuing Baal worship, and also Yahweh worship, depending what day of week it was, I guess. Synchrotistic, worshiping one, worshiping the other. Remember that whole story? They're all there, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and they're having a contest. There's been drought, drought, drought, drought on the land. Everybody's desperate for rain. Elijah had prayed that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't rain for three and a half years. Now the time has come for God to deal with the sin that led to that curse, so they're all assembled there. Elijah said, "How long are you going to limp between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow him. If Baal is God, then follow him.” But the people remained quiet, kind of sitting on the fence. Disgusting.
The prophets of Baal can't do anything. Now it's Elijah's turn, now it's God's turn. Elijah builds that altar, puts the animal sacrifice on it, pours a bunch of water on it, and just leaves it there. Then he prays. You remember what happened? Fire came from heaven, fire. Now here's the interesting thing. I'd never thought of this before this morning. All the people wanted was rain, water coming down from heaven. But before the water could come, what has to come down from heaven first? Fire. The holy wrath of God on that sinful people. Do you see where it came down? What did it come down on? It came down on the sacrifice. It came down on the substitute, not on the people, and that animal, like all animal sacrifice, represents Jesus. That's what Jesus drank for you and me on the cross, that we would not lose our souls. Should you not be thankful to Him if you're a Christian? Say, "Thank you, Jesus, for drinking fire for me."
So come to Christ, let him be your substitute. Let him drink the wrath you deserve. Let him take away the condemnation that you deserve. Examine yourself. Make certain that you have trusted in Christ, that your sins are forgiven, that you don't lose your soul on Judgment Day, that you never hear those words spoken about you.
But that's not all. Meditate on the infinite worth of every single person you meet this week. They all have infinitely valuable souls, all of them do. Most of them are on their way to hearing those words spoken about them. Do we have a responsibility toward them on behalf of their infinite souls? We're supposed to value their souls more than they apparently do. And we do that by evangelism. The very ministry we heard about today, international ministry. We can get involved in that. But there are other kinds of ministries. You don't have to wait for a ministry. You can share the gospel with your unsaved coworker this week. Say, "I heard the most interesting sermon. Can I share with you?" Just do that tomorrow. See what God does. We have a responsibility to the lost souls that are around us, each of them of infinite worth and value. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for the beauty, and the perfection, and the power of your word. Word of God, living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. We pray that it would penetrate into our souls and save us. Save us from sin, save us from condemnation, oh Lord. And then Lord, send us out, unleash us. Help us to take these ideas and share them with people who need to hear them, who desperately need to hear the truth. We are accountable for the people you brought into our lives. Help us to tell them the truth. In Jesus' name. Amen.