There have been more questions crossing my desk in the last few months than ever before. I ask myself, why? I really don’t know the answer. It very well could be because of my age and physical problems—maybe folks think I am on my last legs and will soon die—which could be. Perhaps I can share some of these with you in the further, but for now I want to consider some of the questions that the Holy Spirit has deemed important enough for all of us to consider.
WHAT SHALL A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS SOUL?
This question was asked by Jesus and like many others question asked by Him it is personal and cannot be ignored by any generation from the time it was asked to the present. The soul of man has been discussed by the educated and the ignorant through the ages and to many it is a creation of human thought because it is not tangible. Our senses cannot discover it, as we cannot see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it. But it remains that there is something in man that elevates him above the brute. There is the concept that the departure of something within causes the physical body to stalemate. What is that something? I prefer to call it what inspiration calls it and say it is the soul. There are various characteristics the word of God uses to describe the soul and its value, but none clearer than this one asked by Jesus. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26), Jesus in this setting is demonstrating the value of following after Him. There are many things that men set up or establish as valuable, things that fill the heart with desire, things that all men covet; yet these have not the ability to see the soul. Therefore, Jesus is giving His hearers the opportunity to compare His Kingdom with the kingdoms of the world, His way is set against the ways of the world, it is the temporal in opposition to the eternal. Were it possible for one to posses the entire world and the value of it, there is no comparison with the value of something each man already possesses—his soul. I have received packages from time to time that have written on them “handle with care.” This indicates that it should be handled gingerly lest it be harmed in some way. “Handle with care” should be inscribed upon the forehead of every human being because of the value and tenderness of the soul. What would you trade for your soul? Is there something that you would trade (exchange) for your soul? People will not readily admit it but the bargaining goes on all the time. The Lord had prefaced this statement by declaring (verse 25,) “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” It is plain that “life” and “soul” is in this context used interchangeably by the Lord. Perhaps we can better grasp the lesson by thinking about “life.” How many have exchanged Christ’s way for a financial position, for family relationships, for pleasure? Multitudes I would imagine. Unlike Moses few are willing to choose “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Heb.11: 25). Allow me to put it to you squarely, what would you give in exchange for your soul?
WHOM SAY YE THAT I AM?
“But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:18), It claims our interest to know that Jesus would propose such a question to His followers. Knowing as He did the hearts of all men there was little need for the question, except that Jesus asked it for their benefit. He wanted them to think about the answer. The question is one that needs asking by each of us individually. It matters little what others believe as when all is said and done we have no control over them, yet we do have control of our destiny and what we think of Christ will alter the course of our life. Previously Jesus had asked a question that was easily answered. “whom do men say that I am?” (V. 13). The answer to this question could have been answered because they had heard people say these things, or they could have known some believed certain things because they were in a group who followed someone who has said these things. But whatever the means of their ascertaining that others answered the question, it is always rather easy to speak out about the belief of other people who may or may not agree with our sentiments. There are those in every age that know what others are saying. “THEY SAY” is all too common verbiage. What were others saying about Jesus? “And they said, Some say that that thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” (V 14). It is not difficult to understand why others were saying Jesus was John the Baptist. John had been beheaded by Herod two chapters earlier, but there were common traits between Jesus and John, John preached that the kingdom was at hand, Jesus also preached that very thing. John proclaimed that the Jews must repent. Jesus preached that the people needed to repent. John commanded the people to be baptized in water. Jesus preached and baptized more than John, although He baptized not, but His disciples. Therefore it is not strange that people would say, “Jesus is John the Baptist.” We likewise are not amazed that people would say, “Jesus is Elias” since John came in the spirit of the fiery prophet and some believed that John was the reincarnated Elias, the same reasoning could be applied to Jesus. Jeremiah proclaimed that the people should turn from iniquity back to God to find rest for their souls, yet he wept and laminated because of their transgressions. Jesus wanted the people to come to Him and they would find rest from sin. He wept for the people as He wished to embrace and protect them, but alas they rejected Him. A common thread ran through the prophets God dispatched among the people, the thread that was kept alive by Jesus. In all these assessments there was found a likeness in Jesus. BUT THE BELIEF AND THE STATEMENTS ABOUT JESUS WERE WRONG! People today say many things about Jesus if we listen to them. He is called a moralist, a great teacher, a founder of a religion, a mover of men, etc. The statements are all true but far too limited. Thus, the question asked by Jesus, “whom say ye that I am” is put to all of us demanding an answer. Would you—will you—do you answer as Peter? Is Jesus to you—you personally—you individually, the Son of God. Do you believe His claims? Like Jesus disciple’s people today know what others think of Jesus by what they say and more importantly by what is practiced by them. Jesus asked the question “whom say ye that I am” in order that all of us would look at ourselves and make adjustments where needed. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). What about that question? Are there things that you know are wrong yet you go along with them—accept them? Do you think the verbiage of saying “Lord, Lord” makes everything all right? Another time the Lord said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” (Jn. 14:15). Many scream their affection for Jesus and at the same time bring down the hammer of condemnation on other people who profess their love for Jesus and fail to obey His commandments, and they themselves when tried, do what they want to do, practice what is easiest, seek their own pleasure yet profess a love for Jesus. It is well to ask, “whom say ye that I am?” There has never been a time in man’s history that obedience has not been required to please God. Yet there is a persistency in human beings to have things as they wish without regard to the wish of Christ. James looked at it in a way we all can understand. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not s forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (Js. 1:22-25). The glass used by James is what we call a “looking glass” or a “mirror.” A person approaching looks and sees or discovers that correction must be made, but he leaves and does not make proper adjustments. Another person approaches the glass and upon observing that there must be something done immediately corrects his appearance. Just as in the case of Jesus querying the disciples there are two sides presented by James. When one knows (by the word of God), that adjustments to his life are needed, he goes on his way without making correction. The man thinks all is well as it is. He “deceives himself.” The other man begins his work by obeying thus altering his life as stipulated by scripture. In the first case the multitudes of the world are presented as well as some members of the body of Christ. They think that the Lord will accept them just because of their wishing it so. The other realizes that there is no sacrifice to great, no unpleasantry large enough, and nothing that must not be adjusted to please he Lord. Therefore it does not matter what we think, what we pray about or how much we profess our love for Christ the important thing is that we “do” what is required of us. I might observe here as well, just how strange it would be if we approached a mirror to discover another’s face rather than our own. As amazing as it is people are not taken aback upon seeing another in the “perfect law of liberty.” Faults of another readily appear rather than our own and we aren’t shocked at all. Why so? Methinks that we have failed in asking or answering the question ask by Jesus, “whom say ye that I am?” People determine themselves the judge, deciding what the Lord allows for others and what He determines for themselves. More often than not these are light years from one another. Do you see the importance to properly answer this question? Let me ask you personally—individually, have you recently looked introspectively into the word of God to ascertain whether Jesus is the Son of God? Or could it be that He is just a name spoken to you?
Barney Owens 1804
What Must I Do To Be Saved From Sin?
Only by hearing the word of God can we find the answer. It reveals to us the necessity of believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The believer is commanded to repent of the sins committed. Next as Peter did confess the truth about who Jesus is. Then one must submit to water baptism for the remission of sins. (See Romans 10:17, 10:9, 10:10, 2:4, 6:3-4).
What Must I do To Be Lost?
You will notice immediately following the announcement of a series of Gospel Meetings that will soon take place at the meeting-house of the Sharonville church of Christ. The preacher agreeing to come and present the Gospel to this vicinity is Brother Daune Permeanter. Duane and his wife Lori have two children and several grandchildren. He has worked with multiple congregations large and small across the United States and has also lived and preached in several foreign countries, presently living in Hawaii. It would be to your profit to give him a hearing and if possible visiting with him during his stay among us. We certainly welcome the opportunity to have him here for this short time. Please make note of the dates below and come and be with us.