“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
IN THE LAST TWO THOUSAND YEARS, MANY DIFFERENT MESSAGES HAVE BEEN PREACHED BY THOSE CLAIMING TO UPHOLD THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Today, most of what goes by the name of “Christianity” is a far cry from what Jesus taught and what He instructed His apostles to teach. To be specific, the original emphasis on the removal of our sins so that we could have a right relationship with God and the hope of eternal life, has been replaced by a modern emphasis on psychological uplift and social justice.
It should go without saying: we need to rightly understand what the gospel of Christ is about. If we misjudge the main point of the gospel (and even worse, misrepresent the main point to those we teach), the results of our misplaced emphasis will be tragic.
Surely there are many different problems in the world. To say that this world is “broken” is to say the painfully obvious. But when Jesus appeared, what was it about this world that He proposed to fix? If we let Jesus, the Great Physician, tell us what our very worst problem is, will we humbly accept His diagnosis?
In one of Jesus’ most often-quoted statements He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Whatever other problems He might have helped us with, He was clear that none of these benefits would matter if we failed to let Him restore us to the fellowship of our Heavenly Father. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
Jesus’ priority was the forgiveness of our sins so that having been reconciled to God we could be conformed to His character and look forward to a perfect relationship with Him in eternity. If that was Jesus’ priority, it ought to be ours. It ought to matter more than economic security, emotional well-being, or anything else.
Do we understand the horror of refusing God’s redemption and dying in our rebellion against Him? If that happens, nothing we ever gained in this world will matter. If our souls are lost in eternity, the only thing — the only thing — we will regret missing in this life was a right relationship with the God who made us.
“The essence of hell is complete separation from God, and that is the ultimate disaster” (W. R. Matthews).