The Infinite Worth of the Soul (Matthew Sermon 79 of 151)
November 09, 2008 | Andy Davis
Judgement Day, Return of Christ, The Kingdom of Christ, Hell
“How Much Land Does a Man Need?”
This morning we're looking at Matthew 16:26-28. I wanna begin by asking a question, a question asked by the novelist Leo Tolstoy and that is, “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” It's a short story that he wrote in 1886, James Joyce called it the greatest story ever written. It's a story about a Russian man named Pahom who had ambitions to improve his lot in life and back then in Russia, the most valuable commodity economically was land, real estate. The owner of a large tract of land was inevitably wealthier than one who owned less and one who owned no land at all was a peasant, a beggar living at the whim of a landlord. Now Pahom yearned for more land and therefore with it, more prosperity. At the beginning of the story, he boasts to his wife, “If I could have more land I wouldn't fear the devil himself.”
The Devil sitting behind the oven hears this and snickers. He says “Alright fine, we'll have a battle. I'll give you plenty of land and by that means, I will get you into my power.” As the story unfolds, Pahom hears about a tribe of people in the rich fertile valleys of the east, a people named the Bashkirs. Though he can hardly believe it, he hears that these people are selling large tracts of land, for very little money. Incredible bargain. So he travels overland to the Bashkir region and he meets the chieftain. After drinking some tea and going through some social rituals, Pahom gets down to business. He declares his desire to buy some land. The Bashkirs readily agree and Pahom asks for the price, they say strangely 1000 rubles, per day.
Pahom doesn't understand what this means, “Per day?” “Yes,” they answer, “for 1000 rubles, you can have as much land as you can walk around in a single day but you have to begin at sunrise and you have to return to the same spot by sunset or else your money is forfeited to us.”
Well, Pahom that night is filled with greed. He's thinking that he's in good physical condition. He can walk around a pretty big tract of land, so he's excited. He thinks he can walk around at least 35 miles in a day. He'll have 150 acres for plow land, he thinks and all the rest will be for grazing all of his head of cattle that he is most certainly going to own. So he agrees to the price, he wants to start the next day and they agree to do that.
At sunrise Pahom stands ready on the top of a little hillock. The Bashkir chief at sunrise drops his hat on the ground as both the starting and the finishing place for his race. Pahom has to return to that hat by sunset or forfeit his thousand rubles. So he starts off and his greed drives him on quickly throughout the morning as he goes along the first leg of his journey and as he goes the land just seems to get better and better, richer and richer, better looking rivers and copses of trees and he just wants it all but then he starts to realize, I've bit off a lot here and so he thinks it's about time, it's getting near noon to make his first turn, so he digs a little hole to mark the place as was agreed and he turns but he starts to realize that he's behind schedule, the sun's already at the top of the sky, it's the heat of the day, it's actually past noon now and he starts to pick up the pace. He's getting hot, he takes off his coat, he's moving along and he decides enough on the second leg, and he digs a hole to mark the second marker. By now, it's actually mid-to-late afternoon and he thinks he's in trouble, and he actually is. So he starts to travel faster and faster, marks the third spot as quickly as he can, and turns for home.
By now, the sun is getting a little bit orange in the western sky and he is pushing as hard as he can. Actually he's running at top speed whatever energy he has left late in the day. He comes over a little bit of a hill and he sees that hillock where he began but it still seems distant and now it's a race for time. He goes as hard and as fast as he can but he's got that last little rise to go just as the sun is dipping over the horizon, he dives and grasps the chieftain's cap, just in time.
Well, the Bashkir people are elated. They're just laughing and celebrating, “What a fine fellow. It's the largest tract of land we've ever seen in a single day.” And they're celebrating and they go to raise him up but there's blood coming from Pahom's mouth, you see, he's dead. The exertion killed him and so the Bashkirs take a shovel and they dig a six foot long stretch six feet down in the earth and that's the answer to the question: how much land Pahom needed, just enough to bury him.
What an interesting story. What a parable on life, on ambition, on what really matters. What do you really need? I think Jesus asked two searching questions in our text. It gets to a deeper issue even. Pahom forfeited his physical life, Jesus goes even deeper than that. He asked this question, “What would it profit a man, if he gained the whole world and forfeited his soul?” And then he asked a second question: “What would a man give in exchange for his soul?”
At the end of your life of achievement, you will stand before Jesus Christ and you'll give an account of every careless word you spoke and you'll give an account of your life and the issue hanging in the balance on Judgment Day will be this: Where will your soul spend eternity? Will your soul spend eternity with God in heaven or will your soul be tormented for eternity in hell? That is the question.There is no third option and Jesus is speaking this to make sure that we don't lose our souls in a fruitless pursuit of things that don't matter at all.
Understanding the Context
Now, let's understand the context. We're in the Gospel of Matthew, returning there after about a year and a half. The gospel of Matthew is the presentation of Jesus Christ as the king of the kingdom of heaven, that's the theme of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. So the gospel begins with a genealogy, establishing his right to rule as the legitimate, the legal heir of David, the son of David.
But then in chapters two and three, with his birth, a birth account and then with his baptism and the statement made by Almighty God from the sky, we see established also Jesus is the son of God. So he is the son of David, the son of man, and he is also the son of God and those are his personal credentials to rule over the Kingdom of heaven.
And then we see his personality and his attributes established in his miracles at the end of Matthew chapter 4. He does signs and wonders, and so the power of his kingdom established by his miracles. We see also the wisdom of his kingdom established and his teachings, the Sermon on the Mount and the parables and all of the great utterances he spoke as no man ever did. And we see also the character of the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, the purity, the holiness, his compassion, his mercy. We see all of that put on display.
But in this section of Matthew, he has turned his gaze and Matthew has through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to us as the readers to people to see whether we will enter the Kingdom or not. We have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and so there are many teachings concerning this. That we have to be able to in Matthew 16, make Peter's confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. And after Peter makes that confession, Jesus warns his disciples, in verse 21 of this chapter, “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the chief priest, elders and teachers of law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
This is devastating for them. They did not expect a suffering Messiah, still less a dead Messiah. Could not understand this and it was very difficult for them, and Peter again acting as spokesman for what they were all thinking, just could not understand how that could work and took Jesus aside, if you can actually believe this and rebukes Jesus. Quite a moment in redemptive history. Peter, the chief among the apostles, rebuking the Son of God.
Jesus turns and rebukes him back and says “Get behind me, Satan. You're a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of man. You're thinking like a man, not thinking like God would have you think.”
Now Peter's immediate motive was selfish. He figured that he was in line for a key position in this new kingdom. Did not understand the Kingdom of Heaven, didn't understand it at all. But he knew that Jesus dead leaves him in a bad way, having left his fishing business and all that and being one of Jesus' right-hand men. And so he can't imagine Jesus dead because he can't imagine himself dead either. And so he's really thinking like a human. His mind is focused on earthly things, earthly power, earthly achievement, earthly pleasures, that's what he's thinking about, that's what's on his mind and so Jesus gives this incredible call.
Understanding the Call
Verse 24 and 25, Jesus said to his disciples. “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 will find it.” “Don't live for this world,” he's saying to Peter. “Don't cling to things in this world. Don't hold on to your life, let it go. There's another world that's coming and we're gonna live for that world. In this world, we're gonna have trouble; persecution and difficulties and suffering. In the next world, I will establish forever my perfect kingdom. Don't live for this world. Deny yourself. Be willing to die as I'm going to die.” That's what he's saying.
Stop finding your life in earthly things. Jesus then turns up the intensity even further, the call on the disciples is that they realize that anything that hindered them from entering the Kingdom of Heaven must be dispensed with, just as Jesus earlier said, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. So he wants to give the disciples a sense of the immense worth and value of their future life, more significantly of their souls.
And so he says this, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Now, from this text, I'm gonna focus on two questions, two issues. And that is the world and what it means to gain it and secondly, the soul and what it means to lose it.
And then I'm gonna ask Jesus' two questions and seek to answer them. “What would it profit a man then if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” and secondly, “What would a man give in exchange for his soul?” I wanna sharpen these questions to a fine point. I wanna urge you to be sure that your soul's final state will be in heaven and not in hell. I believe that's why God brought every one of you here today, including myself; that we would have a strong answer to that question by faith. That we would know where our soul is going to spend eternity. It's not an academic question. There could be no more important question that you face today than that.
Where will your soul spend eternity? Will you be welcomed into heaven or will you be cast into Hell? One of those two will be your future. And to help you, I will focus on the final inducement that Christ makes. Verse 27, “The Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” Judgment Day is coming and the glory of Christ and the eternal value of your soul will push out every other issue from your mind. I wanna heighten that so you can make the wisest possible choice.
The World, and What It Means to Gain It
So let's start with this issue and that is the world and what it means to gain it. Jesus said, “What would it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"”
First: No One Has Ever Done This, Though Many Have Tried
First of all, let me say no one has ever been able to do it. I mean, to gain the whole world. Many have tried but they've never been able to pull it off. Jesus is clearly using hyperbole here, an exaggerated statement to make a point. The fact of the matter is, many empire builders of all ages have sought to control the world and it has eluded all of them but they have run the race, haven't they? They've certainly tried.
The largest contiguous empire in the world in terms of land mass that there ever was, was that of the Mongols, the Mongolians. It reached its peak in the year 1260. It was 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, it represented just shy of 25 percent of the world's available land mass. They got a quarter of it and they had it for a few years, then it started to shrink, as all empires do. And so that's it, that's the number one of all time.
Others have tried to control certain aspects of the world. Certain commodities, or certain economic features. John D. Rockefeller for example, over 100 years ago, controlled through Standard Oil over 90 percent of the petroleum business of the world. Now, imagine what that would be worth today, if you controlled 90 percent of it.
For that reason, some people estimate that Rockefeller's personal wealth when adjusted to 21st century standards, is the greatest in history, approximately $320 billion. Incredible amount of money. He had 90 percent not 100 percent 90 percent of the oil business and he had it for a little while.
In recent years, some have tried to corner the market one way or another. In the 1970s, Nelson Bunker Hunt and his brother Herbert came very close to cornering the market on silver. That doesn't mean owning all the silver in the world, just means controlling it. They'd accumulated huge amounts of silver and by September of '79, the price had risen from $11 an ounce to over $50 an ounce. At that point, the Hunts controlled more than half of the world's deliverable silver but they didn't have quite enough money and the whole thing collapsed and in the end, they filed for bankruptcy so they tried just to control the silver and they couldn't even do that.
See, these are just some of the ways that individual human beings have sought to control just small portions of the world and no one has ever been able to do it but Jesus is saying, even if you could gain the whole world, even if you could do it, and if you lost your soul, it wouldn't be worth it. It wouldn't be to your profit.
The World IS Attractive—Admit It!
Now, the world is attractive, admit it. We're not gonna stand up here and purely say, in a philosophical or theological way, “There's nothing in the world that attracts me. There's nothing here I like. I am so other-worldly that I have no earthly concerns.”
Now, I know that Psalms 73 says beautifully. “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.” That God is our portion, he's our final reward, and I understand that thought but let's be honest, God has created a beautiful world and there are desirable things in this world. There's the beauty of the earth, the pleasures of food and travel and entertainment. Hobbies, a good novel, an absorbing board game or an athletic event. There's the value of the esteem of other people. The joy of earthly success in business, academics, athletics, these things are desirable and it's wrong for us to say that there's nothing in them for us. That there's nothing attractive in this world, it just isn't true and all of these things should be received as good gifts of God. We would lie if we said that these things meant nothing whatsoever to us. God created all of these things richly for our enjoyment, he says, but any of them can become idols, they can just take over so they become the focus of our hearts and of our lives. They become an idol.
The Attractive Pulls of the World… All Empty
And ultimately, if we're gonna use that language, ultimately, the attractive pulls of the world are all empty. They're not going to satisfy our souls deepest longings. There's the pull of power. After Alexander the Great conquers whatever he could conquer and his army was compelling him to turn back and enjoy what he'd conquered, never lost a battle, and he sat down and wept that there were no more battles to fight. Come alongside him and say “Alexander, look at all the battles you've fought and won.” It's not bringing him any happiness, he's miserable. He's got to have more and more and more and more and more. The pull of power. It's empty.
How about the pull of wealth? There's Croesus, who lived in the 6th century BC. His land happened to have some of the richest gold mines in the world, therefore he was the richest king in the world. Had all of this gold, didn't make him happy and it was very attractive to Cyrus the Great of Persia. Heard about it, very interested in it. Came and conquered it, captured Croesus and was going to burn him to death. How happy is he now, concerning his wealth? As he's just about to be burned to death, doesn't bring any satisfaction. Actually, the richer you are the more worries and the more trouble you have in life.
What about wisdom? If only you could have wisdom, if you could have all of the wisdom. Well, Solomon went down that road for us and what does it say in the book of Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes 118; For with much wisdom comes much sorrow. The more knowledge, the more grief. Students can testify to that. The more knowledge I get, the sadder I get, or at least the pursuit of knowledge anyway, brings grief. Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived until the time of Christ and it brought him nothing but misery and sadness.
And then there's fame. I think no one can have the kind of fame that's available to us in this modern age. Think about it. Through the internet, through digital photography, through even YouTube, your privatest moments can immediately become world famous. Not that you would want that. More infamous, I would think. We can become quickly infamous but not very much quickly famous, I'm thinking. But I remember during the Barcelona Olympics, the first dream team, the basketball team, Michael Jordan was walking down the street of Barcelona and came to a building, a seven-story building that had a Nike poster of himself that covered the entire side of the building and so, the camera pulls back until it can get the whole poster and you can't even see Michael Jordan, the real one. He's tiny behind this dwarf photo of himself dunking. Worldwide fame, okay? But yet it's pretty pathetic to see athletes and movie stars and others try to hold on to that fame as age starts to take away the capabilities that gave it to them in the first place. They come back for one more Tour de France or they come out of retirement three times or they just can't let it go, because they're not satisfied, they can't live in the past, they can't hold on to it.
What about beauty? Look at all the movie starlets and the surgeries they're willing to go through and they're willing to risk their health to maintain their beauty. And you can see an aging starlet as she no longer gets the phone calls she used to get and others have taken her place and she's in some abandoned hotel room and commits suicide like Marilyn Monroe. Didn't bring any ultimate satisfaction and happiness. These things are not meant to be ultimately satisfying to our souls or the reason for our lives.
Satan’s Consistent Offer of a Trade
And then there's Satan, who in the story of “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” is willing to stand and make a trade with you. Now, he's not offering to peons like you and me, the whole world. He offered that only once to one person, you remember who it was? He offered it to Jesus. “I'll give it all to you, the whole thing, if you'll just bow down and worship me.” And Jesus said, “Away from me, Satan. For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
So he offered it to Jesus but he's willing to make trades. Like Dr. Faustus, who traded his soul to the devil in that story to get supernatural power and pleasures. For 24 years he had it and then at the end of the story he tried to rescind the offer, make the trade back and couldn't do it and came to a bitter end.
And so in common speech, we think about somebody with an extraordinary ability, like Paganini who could play an entire piece on one string. He would purposely break three of the strings on the violin and that would leave just one string and he could still play it on the one string and they said he sold his soul to the Devil to get that ability. We use that kind of expression. Well, it's a myth.
You can't sell your soul to the Devil. He doesn't have that kind of power. What's he gonna do with it when he is screaming in pain in the lake of fire because that's what it was made for? He doesn't have any ultimate power in this matter but he does have the ability to tempt us to lose our souls as well.
And so he's constantly pulling on us to trade our souls for something temporal, something temporary. Some pleasure, some power, some material possession. Something and so that's the world and what it means to gain it. What is the soul and what does it mean to lose it?
The Soul, and What It Means to Lose It
What Is Your Soul?
Well, your soul, it's more than merely your true self. Some people say that what this means is that the power of sin is such that, eventually, you just lose your true self. You won't be true to yourself, you'll be corrupted, you'll be transformed, you'll become a different person. And what good would it be if you kind of lost who you really were in the quest for power and fame and all that? Well, that's true, that does happen but that's not what Jesus is talking about.
And it's more than merely your physical life and here, you've got to kind of track through acts of Jesus, a changing of the use of the Greek word. In verse 26 he says in the ESV, it says, “What would it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” that's what the ESV gives us. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it.” I think there he is talking about physical life, but here it's deeper than that.
Here he's talking about, not merely that you're going to die, like Pahom after running around that huge tract of land. What good was it for him to gain that big tract of land and die? He can't do anything with it. And so that's true. We can't take it with us and so what good is it if in gaining it, you then die? There are a number of people that press and press and press in their work lives, then when they retire and seek to enjoy their wealth and they can't, they die soon after because of all the exertions. I think that's true as well but that again, is not what Jesus is talking about here.
No, no. He's talking about your soul. That's that immaterial part of you that is able to relate to God, to love God, to serve God, to trust in God, to yearn for him. That's what the soul is and according to this, your soul is in jeopardy. You can lose your soul. That soul is eternal. That's not some trick of Greek philosophy as some have thought, the immortality of the soul as some Greek philosophical concept. That is false, it's a biblical concept.
God will uphold your conscious existence for eternity. Once he creates you, you will be upheld by God for eternity, either in heaven or hell. You can't cease to exist. Keep that in mind if you're ever toying with the idea of suicide. As Hamlet said, “To sleep, perchance to dream. Ah, that's the rub.” I might not stop existing after I come out of the body. No, you don't.
A Lost Soul: Eternal Damnation in Hell
So the immortality of the soul is a biblical concept and according to this, your soul, our souls are in jeopardy. The soul itself is in peril and grave danger for Jesus speaks of the possibility this soul could be lost. What does this mean, to lose your soul? This is a terrifying prospect and how can I combine words and tone of voice and physical demeanor to give you a sense of the seriousness of what it means to lose your soul? What can I say?
Later in this Gospel, we have a picture of Jesus as a Judge of all the earth and all the nations are gathered before him and he separates them, one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats and he puts the sheep on his right, the believers and he puts the goats, the unbelievers, on the left and he says to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Friends, that's what it means to lose your soul. To hear those words spoken about you on that final day.
And what is that like? The eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, what is that like? How can we conceive it? It says in Revelation 14, “He too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb and the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever.” There is no rest, day or night, for those that are cast into hell. For those that are condemned, for those that lose their souls, there's no rest.
Luke 16, the rich man is in agony in hell. He's in torment, yearning for Lazarus to come and cool his tongue with some water. That's what it's like, it's just a picture of somebody eternally lost.
Now, how is the soul lost, how can we lose our souls, what happens? Well, Jesus seems to pit the pursuit of the world, a love for the world, against the welfare of the soul. The seeking or the gaining of the whole world here, is the enemy of the soul but deeper, the issue is, what does your heart yearn for?
The real issue here is sin. It is by sin that we lose our souls. As Jesus will make it plain, souls are lost by Judgment Day's assessment of their life and their behavior. Look at verse 27, “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.”
Jesus’ Two Piercing Questions
So the great issue of your life is simply this; will I lose my soul? And to make this clear, Jesus asks these two piercing questions and both focus on the horror of Judgment Day.
A Question of Profit
Verse 26, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Gain and loss are like business terms. They are Greek business terms here. Has to do with weighing value. What is the value of this, the setting of the price on that? The economics of the matter? Has to do with relative value and worth and the clear implication, this is astonishing. Is that the value of a single human soul is greater than that of the material possessions of all the world. Meditate on that. You came in here today, the possessor of something, a possession of greater worth and value than all the gold, the silver, the diamonds, the real estate, the Fortune 500 companies, the pleasures and privileges of this world, more than all of that put together. Your soul, worth more than that.
And it isn't just your soul. It may help your self-esteem to meditate much on that, fine. Let your self-esteem be helped by considering, “I am created in the image of God. My soul is worth more than the entire physical world.” But it's not just you, but 6.8 billion of us and the same is true of every last one of us. There is not a single human being on the face of the earth for whom it would be a good exchange if they could lose their soul and gain the world. No one.
There might be an orphan waif on a pile of garbage in Rio de Janeiro, picking through trying to find enough calories to make it through the day, that person would not be wise to trade their soul to gain the whole world. Neither the president or CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Wouldn't be wise for that person either to trade their soul to gain the whole world. It doesn't matter if they're a professor in a German institution of higher learning or somebody with Alzheimer's. A human being's soul is worth more than the material possessions of the entire world. Therefore, to forfeit, to lose that soul is the most foolish thing a person can ever do. It is the most devastating mistake a person can make.
A Question of Exchange
It's a question of exchange too, the second question. Look at verse 26, “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Again, the language of commerce, of making an equitable trade.
Imagine it's Judgment Day and Jesus has done his separation and there you stand in the group you were put in and you come to find out that Jesus is speaking these words about you, “Depart from me, you who are cursed. Into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and drive out demons, perform many miracles?’ and he'll say, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil-doers.’”
So you find yourself in that group and, like it happens in Matthew 25, you may argue with the judge and think it's unfair but your status will remain unchanged and then the judge dispatches an angel, for it speaks of being cast into eternal darkness. It's a very personal thing. And so an angel comes and takes you to the precipice and you can look down into the lake of fire.
Alright, freeze right at that moment. Let's say possibly, you still possessed all of your earthly possessions, what percentage of them would you give at that moment in exchange for your soul? If you still had them to give and you won't because they're not yours anyway, they’ll have all been taken from you but suppose you did. “I'll give up to half. I'll give up to half of all I possess that I not be thrown into eternal hell.” “Alright then, 90%. I'll hold back that 10% though.”
You won't hold back anything. Imagine then the foolishness of exchanging your eternal soul for anything earthly. You say, well you've been thinking about becoming a Christian but you're afraid of what your friends will think, what effect it will have on your career, what effect it will have on your fun, what effect it will have on your moral life. You're afraid of these things.
Alright well, let's collect those things and there's some value or worth you think in each of them. Are you willing to trade your soul for those things? That's the question Jesus is bringing to you here and of course, it will be too late then. There'll be nothing that you can do. The question, the matter, has been decided. You may not want to go to Hell, I tell you, no one wants to go to Hell but you will be cast there if you're not a believer in Jesus Christ.
So therefore, the time to face these questions is now, today. Today is the day of salvation. “In the time of my favor I heard you, in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor. Today is the day of salvation.” Face the question now. My job, as a preacher, is to make it vividly come alive to you. To clearly portray Judgment Day and in a moment, to clearly depict Christ crucified, the only salvation for your soul. That's my job, but yours is to come to this point. Reason it out.
Jesus’ Two Compelling Reasons
The Coming Judgment
Jesus gives us two compelling reasons to make the wise choice. First, the coming judgment. Verse 27, “The Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” This is the dreaded Day of the Lord. Christ is going to return in glory with the armies of Heaven. Jude 14 and 15, “Behold, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” That is the coming of Christ in power.
It's a heavenly invasion and can I tell you that the poll numbers leading up to that won't matter to Jesus? Do you know he's actually going to be King of the earth, whether we want him to be or not? Did you know that? He's not submitting to a popular election. Amen and Amen. He's just coming. He's coming in power to reign. The real election will be what happens with you and now is the time to decide that issue. But he will be King and he will reign forever and ever.
So he's coming and he will reign and the judgment will be on all sinners who have not been forgiven and they will give an account, the court will be seated, the books will be open. “And I saw the dead,” Revelation 20, “great and small, standing before the throne and the books were open. Another book was opened which is the Book of Life.” Oh, that your name would be in the Book of life, that you would repent of sins and trust in Christ, that your name would be written indelibly in the Book of Life. Oh, that that would be the case today. And “the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."
The Coming Glory
That's the first reason to make a wise choice, the second is the coming glory. Look at verse 27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels,” verse 28, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” The kingdom is coming with glory. I believe that mysterious statement there has to do with the Mount of Transfiguration. We'll deal with that, God willing next week. When some who were standing there actually got to see Jesus made glorious. His face shone like the sun, his clothes became whiter than light and Jesus said in Matthew 13, the parable of the wheat and the tares. “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Oh there's a coming glory. You don't wanna miss it. You don't wanna miss being in that glory and seeing it. I'm coming in my glory and my kingdom is gonna be glorious. Oh, don't miss it.
Repent and Come to Christ
So what application can we take from this? Well first, just repent and come to Christ, if you're not a believer. Repent and come to Christ. Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, we sang about it right before I came up to preach. The cross of Christ is the power of God for salvation. The message of the cross, the power of God for salvation. Look to the cross, look to Jesus whose blood was shed. Your sins can be forgiven, you can stand forgiven today at the cross and for the rest of your lives. And not by works but by simple faith. By the imputation, the gift of his righteousness, God will see you as perfectly righteous in Jesus for the rest of your life. That's your only hope, look to him and he will forgive you.
Now, I assume the majority of you consider yourselves Christians. You came here today believing yourself to be a Christian. That's a good thing. I'm not trying to undermine your assurance. I'm not trying to pad the statistics of those who will come forward at the end of the service. You know I don't seek to do that. But understand, who did Jesus speak these words to? To his apostles. Don't excuse yourself from the potency of these words, of dealing with the weight of them.
Make your calling and election sure, be certain that your soul is saved and forgiven through faith in Christ, that you're living in a right way and then look at what's going on in your life, look at the health of your soul. You may not forfeit your soul but you can actually wage war against your soul. It says in 1 Peter, there are lusts that wage war against the soul. Are you waging a war against your soul, right now? Don't. Put it to death by the power of the Spirit.
Meditate on the Infinite Worth of Human Souls… Yours and Others’
Thirdly, meditate on the infinite worth of every single human soul. It will help you to see people differently. You won't be so rude to them or irritable toward them. You're dealing with eternities. Each person you deal with is an eternity in Heaven or Hell. That's what you're dealing with. Feel the weight of that. Deal with it seriously. That's the key to the abortion question. That's the key of the abortion question, the value and worth of a human soul, of a human being. That's what it is.
Meditate on the Correspondingly Small Value of the Whole World
Meditate on the infinite worth of human souls and meditate on the correspondingly small value of the whole world. It's small, it's a small value so why do you want it so much? “Well, I don't want it.” Yes, you do. More than you should.
Put it to death, deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus, don't have earthly ambitions, don't seek great things for yourself in this world. Seek to serve a great King who's coming in a great Kingdom, seek that.
Be Active in Seeking and Saving the Lost
And then finally, be active in seeking and saving the lost. Part of the reason that I preach like this to believers, I hope and trust is that you will know how to preach to the unbelievers in your life. That you'll be able to take these things and press them home to the unbelievers you know and I don't, who aren't sitting here today and who might be years away from sitting in a church. Talk to them. Talk to them about their soul. Ask them Jesus' question: What good would it be if you gained the whole world and lost your soul? Ask that question to somebody and trust that God will use the Word of God to save them. Close with me in prayer.