30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
December 12, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine yet another truth of God's word. Because I have no way of really knowing how many may be listening to these 30 minutes of God's word presented each Sunday morning at this time here on WAVG radio, I would like to encourage you to let me know that you are listening by sending me a post card to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, Indiana 47129, or please call me at 944-2305. Let me know that you are listening to the program and please feel free to ask any questions you might have concerning this program or any Bible question whatsoever. We want to hear from you and look forward to answering your questions. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "The Value of Our Soul", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible ready and let's study together another truth of God. Today, we are going to look at the value of our soul. This is one thing that each and everyone of us possesses that we truly determine where its eternal resting place will be.
From a general observation it would seem that life was never more cheaply esteemed than in our own age. Two great world wars within a quarter century, taking millions of earth's fairest manhood, not to mention the thousands lost through accidents from carelessness, and hundreds of deaths from malicious intent speaks of this fact.
While on the one hand, mankind has spent so much effort and resources seeking to develop methods and ways of destroying life, there is shown on the other hand an intense effort to learn how to preserve and save lives. This interest in preserving life, however, has pertained primarily to the physical and not to the spiritual life of humanity. While the great wars were being conducted we see the great destruction and carnage throughout the world and varied thoughts filled the minds of different persons. Some thought of the value of the property destroyed; while others thought of the sufferings endured; some were concerned about the millions being wasted on munitions and the debts being incurred. Some thought of the lives being thrown away, while a few, most likely very few, thought of the value of the souls being flung into eternity, forever --lost. And just one single soul is of greater value than all the millions wasted, property destroyed, and labor expended. It is upon the value of a human soul, your soul, my soul, that we wish to focus our attention in this particular study.
One of the striking differences between the Son of God and the rest of mankind is the infinite difference He placed upon values. With Jesus Christ the value to be considered above all else is life; with men it is things, material values. Let's look together now at a passage of scripture from our Bible concerning this fact that Christ placed great value upon life. Turn with me to the first New Testament book of Matthew, chapter 16, and lets look at verses 21-26. Here it says: "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Here is seen a wonderful contrast in values: the whole world on the one hand, and one soul, on the other. Also here is seen the divine estimate God places upon one soul, one life, when He reckons it to be worth more than all the world. Two words in the text need explaining: the words WORLD and LIFE or SOUL.
The word "world" is used here to sum up that which appeals to the five senses: (What we can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel) all that would come under power, wealth, or pleasure. Suppose one should gain all of these the world offers, which no person can ever acquire, yet lose his soul: Jesus says it is a foolish bargain. Great men of history testify by their own lives that power never satisfies. It is said that Alexander the Great wept when there were no more nations to conquer. The rulers of our own age, living and dead, are testimonials to the failure of power to satisfy. As they gained much they wanted more. As we reflect back at life in general one glaring reality comes to mind. The day one is laid to rest, all that matters at that point is "where will his soul in eternity rest?" All the quest for power, prestige, wealth, or anything else pursued in that one's life will no longer matter, as it seemed to when they were alive. So, when all is said and done, what really matters when our life on this earth is over is what will become of our soul? Therefore, we should see that it is the soul of man that is absolutely the most valuable thing that we possess - and yet often times the one thing that is most often taken for granted ------- that is, until we die!
But let us really put things in their right perspective this morning. Material things are not the object of life's quest. Of men and wealth, Carnegie, the great steel magnate, said, "Millionaires never sing and seldom smile." Wealth is a burden, a care to most people who possess it. And when we consider pleasure, I believe it can be safely said that beneath the pleasure-seeker's seeming happiness, usually there lies a heavy heart which he tries to keep covered by the frivolities of the world. And here is a very sad reality. Did you know that most suicides in our country come from one of these three groups of people?
When it comes time for one to die, it is also time to say "goodbye" to all these material things of life; he leaves them forever. Solomon is an example of one who sought all three: power, wealth, and pleasure, to which he added worldly wisdom beyond any man of his day. Yet, when he reached the evening of life he was constrained to say, " I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind" (Eccl 1:14). And then later in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 it is recorded: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil." Friends, let me ask, why will not the world be taught by these examples and words of wisdom? So many, far too many, are striving after the vanities of life, paying for these worthless bargains with the price of their own soul, the most precious possession in the whole world. Many people are living for the moment and not investing in life forever.
The LIFE that we are talking about is that part of man which comes from God; that spirit that was made in the image of God. It is that part of man that reasons, thinks, loves, hates, knows. It comprises the intellect, the affections and the will of man. It is that part of man destined to eternal consciousness, either with God in heaven or with the devil and his angels in hell. You see, the soul that we have is on loan to us from God Himself. Solomon wrote: "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Eccl 12:7). God gave us each a soul. When our life is over, he will take it back. Where our soul's eternal resting place will be is determined by how we live our life here on this earth. The inspired writer wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
Jesus described the place of the devil and his angels as "outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." The man or woman who loses his or her soul loses all; one who makes such a bargain, though he gain the whole world, is at the last a fool. Jesus Christ taught this great lesson that mankind needs to learn today. He taught it, not by mouth only, but also by His own example. As to material things, He recognized righteousness as true power and pleasure. His joy was in doing the Father's will. Although despised by others and finally crucified, no man ever lived a fuller life; no man ever lived a more perfect life, for His was without flaw; and no man left humanity such a legacy, for He left it an open and sure road to happiness here and heaven hereafter. The pain and suffering of many people today can be attributed to the fact that they are living for themselves, and not for Christ. Man was created to serve the creator. When we depart from our living God, then we become miserable and will die with no hope of everlasting life with God our Father.
God's estimate upon the true value of a life is seen in the sacrifice made when He gave His Son to save one soul. So often we think in terms of the sacrifice of Christ for the world, which is certainly true and declared by the Word of God; but likewise we should think in terms of the individual; it would cost God just as much to save one soul as to save the whole world. Hebrews 9:22, states, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." This is as true of one, as of billions; as true of billions, as of one. Let us notice a few passages of scripture which discuss the sacrificial offering of Christ for mankind. A passage of scripture that is probably very familiar to most in our listening audience this morning is taken from John 3:16. There the text states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." In the book of Romans, chapter 5, verse 8, the apostle Paul stated it very well when he wrote to these Roman brethren: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In this verse, Paul lets it be known that Christ died for every individual, he died for you and he died for me. In 1 John 4:9-10 it says: "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." And then verse 19: "We love Him because He first loved us."
There are other passages which emphasize the individual aspect of Christ's sacrifice. Note Hebrews 2:9 which says: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." Here is revealed God's estimate of the value of one life; not only worth more than the world, but of such great value that His own Son died to redeem and save it. He did that for you and he did that for me. If it were not for God creating us, then we would not be here on this earth to enjoy all the physical blessings that he has bestowed upon us in the first place. And if it had not been for the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, then we would have no hope of an eternal life with Him. Let us think soberly on these things. Think about who we really are. We were created by our loving God to serve Him, to be loyal to Him, and then when we do, we will be able to enjoy an eternity with Him. Don't you want to do that? Don't you desire to go to an eternal resting place with Jesus? The life that you and I live will determine our answer to that question. Paul told young Timothy that "your progress will be evident to all." Truly, our life lived will be evident to all where we want to spend our eternity!
With the vast majority of earth's millions today, life is simply a combination of "shams." Far too many are seeking the things of this world. And they seem to be willing to lose their souls in search of these things. Many, many, many, have accepted the philosophy of the rich fool. Yes, that's right, the Bible contains a short parable designed to teach us all a lesson on where our priorities should be. I would like for you to turn with me in your Bible to Luke 12:15-24. Here it says:"Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing."
In this parable we see where this man was caught up in his possessions. He thought he was set up for many years as he said "take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry." This rich fool was only concerned about himself and his own material things. And so it is with many in the world today; thinking they are set up for life; having a good time enjoying the pleasures of a season. But God said to this rich man, "Fool!, this night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" Someone has said, "A shroud has no pockets in it." My friend, we will take nothing with us when we leave this fleshly body. The inspired apostle Paul said that very thing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:7 "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
Doesn't it seem to be a wise thing to make preparation while here so that when we answer the grim reaper our soul will be right with our Creator? Jesus said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24). To follow Jesus means that we will be like Him in all things. Our priorities will not lie in the things of this world but rather in the teachings and example of our Savior. Listen to the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:21-23, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;" Jesus committed no sin. We are encouraged to live a life to its fullest extent to be pleasing to God. God is pleased with us when we have a true desire to do His will, and not just a desire, but an attitude that says "I will." Life is very short here upon this earth. It does not matter whether you have lived 10 years or 99 years, life is short. But, eternity is a long time. How much do you value your soul? Are you going to throw it all away for a few fleeting moments upon this earth, or make the necessary investments to ensure that it will enjoy an eternity with God? We need to develop within us the spirit of Jesus.
The whole of the spirit of Jesus Christ is set forth by the apostle Paul in Philippines 2:5-8. Here it says: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."The spirit of Christ is the spirit of self denial and sacrifice, humility and obedience to the Father's will. And, this is the need of the world today.
As you think, my dear friend, about the world and your own soul, can you not realize its intrinsic value? When life shall have come to a close, and the spirit takes its flight from this sphere, of what value will all the material and sensual things of this world be then? None! In the midst of a burning building you wouldn't think of things, you would think of life. In a world passing away, think of the value of your life, your soul.
Thank you once again for being in our listening audience this morning. I am so delightful that you to invite me through this radio station to study with you the unsearchable things of the Word of God. May God go with you through the week, and may you forever be mindful of what is really important in this physical life that we live.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"