Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 8, 1983
NUMBER 14, PAGE 6,14

The Value Of A Soul

Homer Hailey

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 bespeak this fact.

While on the one hand, a consideration of scientific interests reveals feverish efforts to learn the secrets of destroying life, there has been manifest on the other, intensive efforts to learn the means of preserving and saving life. This interest in preserving life, however, has pertained primarily to the physical and not to the spiritual life of humanity. As we read during the war of great destruction and carnage throughout the world, 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, probably very few, thought of the value of the souls being flung into eternity for ever lost; of the value of just one single soul as being greater than all the millions wasted, property destroyed, and labor expended. It is upon the value of a human soul, your soul, we wish to focus attention in this particular study.

One of the striking differences between the Son of God and the rest of mankind is the infinite difference placed upon values. With Jesus Christ the value to be considered above all else is life; with men it is things, material values. Upon one occasion, when Jesus "began to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up; Peter took him, and began to rebuke him saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee. But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?" (Matt. 16:21-26).

Here is seen a wonderful contrast in values: the whole world on the one hand, and one soul or life 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: all that would come under power, wealth, or pleasure. Suppose one should gain all of these the world offers, which no one 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.

Material Things 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. Most suicides of our country come from one of these three groups.

When one comes to die, he comes to say "good-bye" to all these; he leaves them for ever. 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, "All is vanity and a striving after wind. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, all hath been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty (happiness) of man.___" Neighbor, why will not the world be taught by these examples and monuments of the ages? Yet, in a wild frenzy men and women rush on, striving after the vanities of life, paying for these baubles of life, the price of his own soul, the most precious possession in the world.

The LIFE is that part of man which comes from God, comprising animal life and spirit, which spirit was made in the image of God. It is that part of man that reasons, thinks, loves, hates, knows, and such. It comprises intellect, affections and will. It is that part of man destined to eternal consciousness, either with God in heaven or with the devil and his angels in hell. Jesus described the latter as "outer darkness, where is the weeping and gnashing of teeth." The man who loses his soul loses all; one who makes such a bargain, though he gain the whole world, is at the last a fool. King Saul, after squandering his life on an insane jealousy of David, in rebellion against God, came to its close declaring, "Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly." (1 Samuel 26:21) This lesson is one men need learn today; it is the lesson the Saviour sought to teach, not by word only, but also by His own example. As to material things, He "had not where to lay his head;" as to power, He recognized righteousness only as the sceptre of true power; and of pleasure, His joy was in doing the Father's will. Although despised by others and finally crucified, no man ever lived a fuller life, for His was full and complete; no man ever lived a more perfect life, for His was without flaw; and no man left humanity such a legacy, for He left to it an open and sure road to happiness here and heaven hereafter.

God's Estimate Of Soul's Value Seen In Jesus' Sacrifice

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 Bible; but likewise we should think in terms of the individual: it cost God just as much to save one soul as to save the whole world. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission," said the apostle. (Heb. 9:22) This is as true of one as of billions; as true of billions as of one. A few scriptures as the following consider the sacrifice of Christ for men in the aggregate: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) "But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) And again, "Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10) But there are other Scriptures in which Christ, the sacrifice for the individual, is emphasized — such as Heb. 2:9, "But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor that by the grace of God he should taste death for EVERY MAN." Here is revealed God's estimate of the value of one life; not only worth more than the world, but of such inestimable value that His own Son died to redeem and save it.

With the vast majority of earth's millions today, life is simply a combination of "shams." This is true of all who seek to find life in the things of the world, who would gain the world but lose his soul. But what is the price of true life, the life of which Jesus spoke? It is discovered in these two verses; hear it, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." This sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? Losing one's life by saving it; and saving one's life by losing it. But it is exactly the way of true life, of the full life.

To Find True Life One Must Lose One's Life In Service

In finding life, one must deny self; self is in the way of most people's finding life that is life indeed. Self-denial was one of the characteristics of the Christ; His life from the cradle to the cross was one of selflessness. One must take up his cross and follow Jesus.

To bear the cross with Him is to share with Him His great mission into the world; it is to endure ridicule and reproach from the world, and the scorn of those who contend for its traditions and human philosophies, reviling truths as that truth is in Jesus. One must follow Jesus wherever the road leads; he must follow in His steps. The apostle Peter said, "For hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." (1 Peter 2:21-23)

All Jesus did, He did for others. Following Him means putting others before self. The emptying of one's self that others may live. Selfishness stands in the way of true happiness and heaven today. Jesus said, "All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matt. 7:21) While Paul said, "Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying. For Christ also pleased not himself; but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me." (Rom. 15:2,3) And again, he says, "Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others." (Phil. 2:4)

This I know to be directly contrary to the reasoning of the world, but this is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, "he that would lose his life for my sake shall find it." Speaking of the cross and its relation to himself, Paul said, "Through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14) The world has followed its plan and principles for lo these nineteen hundred years, and look at its condition today. Do you not think it about time that Jesus' plan be given a more universal trial?

The whole of the spirit of Jesus Christ is set forth by the apostle in Philippians 2:5-8: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptying himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, 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. This is the need of the world today.

The life principle is from God; it is incomplete till re-united with God in Christ. In Christ God was entreating men to be reconciled to Him; in the sacrifice of Christ He revealed His estimate of one soul, yours. In the invitation of Christ He manifests His longing for each to come and find rest in Him As you think, neighbor, 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 the 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 today of the value of your life.

— Tampa, Florida