How to combine salvation and service. A very important message about what it means to be saved. Some of you have never done this. Please read this short explanation.
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
I would like to make a few observations on this passage. This is a very critical passage tying the service of Christ to the salvation of the soul. It has been said that failure to separate service and salvation leads to great confusion about how to be saved. Notice in this passage the proper combination of service and salvation in order for Christ to make His point.
First, that Christ is speaking of service to Himself is quite obvious. Following Christ, taking up the cross, and coming after Christ are all phrases of taking Christ as Master and serving Him.
Second, that Christ here speaks clearly of salvation is also evident for He says that those who do as He here commands shall save their life; and those who do not do as he here commands shall lose their soul. The saving or losing of the soul is a very clear reference to salvation which in all dispensations is attained the same way. In Matthew 10:28 the death and destruction of the soul happens in hell. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Yet the saving of the soul is our salvation in as in Heb 10:39, “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” We see that the loss of the soul is death and destruction in hell, and the keeping of the soul is salvation.
Again, in John’s gospel this same language is used to show that only those who do what Christ here says can have eternal life. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25). Here Christ clearly states that any who love their life more than they love Christ will lose their life. This is the same as losing your soul because you have tried to keep it, as our main text states above. This is failing to gain eternal life. Also, you will save your life if you hate it in this world, which is the same as losing your life for Christ’s and the gospel’s sake in our above text. This is gaining eternal life. A man can only keep his life unto eternal life and save his soul in one way, and that is to believe savingly in Christ through the gospel.
So it is apparent that Christ here speaks to the people of service and
salvation in one call. In fact, it is also clear that He sets forth service as a condition for salvation. See that He conditions losing your soul on trying to save or keep your life from service to God. He then conditions saving your soul on you’re losing, or surrendering, or releasing your life for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s sake. Notice how these are so sweetly tied together, being inseparable. A man’s soul hangs in the balance. It will either be kept or lost. How will it be lost? Will it be by rejecting Christ as his personal Savior? Yes, but in this passage this is described as “saving your life,” “gaining the world,” and “exchanging your soul.” This is also the rejection of “denying yourself,” “taking up the cross,” and “following” Christ. How will he save his soul in this passage? Is it by trusting in Christ as his personal Savior? Yes, but observe how it is described here. He must lose his life for the Savior’s sake and the gospel’s sake. He must conclude that there is nothing more valuable in the whole world than serving Christ and giving his soul to his Creator and Savior. According to this passage and John 12, he will save his soul and have eternal life.
Christ has no business bringing these two concepts, salvation and service, into one call to the people unless there is a necessary union between the two. That Christ speaks here of serving Him is quite clear. That Christ speaks here of the eternal loss of the soul is also clear and the repetition of this in John 12 shows us that this in no false interpretation. He does not change subjects and switch from a call to service and begin a call to save our souls, but instead he marries the call as one call. He cannot be saying that someone could lose their life for the gospel’s sake, without taking up their cross. This would be a direct contradiction. He cannot be saying that a man can value something more than God and keep his soul. This again is a contradiction. They must value Christ higher than anything else. In other words, they must repent of their low view of Christ and see Him as God who is more valuable than their own lives or pleasures or they cannot be saved. So long as they value something more than their own salvation in Christ, they cannot be saved. This is a clear distinction by Christ that to be saved, one must view Christ as more valuable than any earthly treasure. One must approve of His true nature as God, and Savior. One must yield his very soul up to Christ in such a way as to be dying to the world and all its offers. In short, we must choose Christ or the world, but we cannot have both.
Here is the union in this passage. Those who would be saved must come to terms with the value of their soul, the value of Christ and, through the enlightenment of the Spirit, must ascribe to Christ the highest place in their hearts. As they trust only in Him to save them, they fulfill the conditions in this passage to save their soul. This is not the end of the sanctifying work of Christ, but the very beginning of the sanctifying work of Christ in their hearts to be completed unto the day of final salvation. If they will not ascribe to Christ the highest place in their hearts, they will value the world more than they value Christ and cannot be saved. According to this passage, only those willing to serve Christ, those willing to lose their life by taking up their cross, only those willing to deny themselves by hating their life in this world, or, which is the same, losing their life for Christ and the gospel, can be saved.
Is Christ here teaching that a man must work for his salvation? Is following Christ a work required to gain eternal life? No. Here we see that the man who repents in his heart follows through with his life. Here we see that the one who sees Christ as more valuable than this life has turned from one way of thinking to another. This is the perfect picture of true repentance. It is a change of mind about the value of Christ and service to Him and the worth of the soul, and what we are to love. Faith puts its full trust in Christ for complete forgiveness and indwelling power to fulfill the holy calling just answered. The man once placed little value on his soul and would exchange it for any worldly pleasure. He now values, or loves, Christ and sees himself in proper relation to his Master. This is true repentance. The man sees his real value and Christ’s real value. The Bible states that true repentance produces fruit worthy of repentance. Therefore, all who thus repent become followers of Christ. It is not the act of following that later brings salvation. For salvation to be immediately dispensed, it must be from a change of heart, not a succession of acts. It is repentance and faith through which we access Christ’s saving power and makes us followers of Christ, who value Christ more than self, and the service of Christ more than the things of this world, and the salvation of the soul, more than the fear of serving Christ. So Paul rightly says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”
Pastor Troy Dukeswww.GraceBaptistWPB.com