| For More
"SOUL SALVATION," PART 4
GAINING BY LOSING
"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? For the
Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and then He will reward each
according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some
standing here who shall not taste
death till they see the Son of Man coming in His
Four our times in these verses the
Greek word psyche appears:
(1) Whoever desires to save his psyche will lose it.
(2) Whoever loses his psyche for Christ's sake will
(3) What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole
world, and loses his own psyche?
(4) What will a man give in exchange for his psyche?
What did the Lord mean by the expression saving (or
losing) one's psyche?
Some understand the
expression saving one's psyche here and in the parallel
texts in Matt 10:38, Mark 8:34, and Luke
9:23 and 14:27 to refer to obtaining eternal salvation from hell.
one author writes, "There
is no salvation apart from cross-bearing" (Boice,
Christ's Call To Discipleship, p 36).
Another writes, "Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price
for salvation when our sinful
self is nailed to a cross. It is total abandonment of self-will.
. . It denotes implicit obedience, full
surrender to the lordship of Christ" (MacArthur, The
Gospel According to Jesus, p 140).
Others, however, understand this expression quite differently
here and in the parallel texts. There
are four major reasons why the eternal-salvation view is
First, eternal salvation is not
conditioned elsewhere in the Bible upon self-denial and
cross-bearing. Eternal salvation is not
something which we buy. It is free (John 4:10; Rom 3:24; Eph 2:9;
is unmerited. It is by grace, not by works (Rom 4:1-5; Eph 2:9;
Eternal salvation is
conditioned only upon believing in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16;
6:47; Eph 2:8). Nowhere in
this passage is belief in Christ even mentioned.
Second, those being addressed here are
believers, not unbelievers. Believers already have eternal
salvation. Since eternal salvation
cannot be lost (John 10:27-30; Rom 8:38-39), the Lord is warning
the disciples about the
possibility of losing something else.
Third, recompense according to one's deeds (v 27) is a
not a salvation concept. Rather, it is a rewards concept.
Compare especially 2 Cor 5:10. There, nearly
identical language is used and it clearly deals with possible
rewards for people who are already
Fourth, nowhere else in the Bible does the expression
saving the psyche ever
refer to eternal salvation from hell. It either refers to
preserving one's physical life or to gaining
What the Lord actually meant by saving one's psyche
here should be evident
from the preceding four points.
Peter and the other disciples already had eternal life. They
did not need to do anything else in order to get it or keep it.
Metaphorical language is being
employed here. It is a sort of riddle. How can one give up
something in order to gain that same
something back? More specifically, how can one give up his life
in order to gain his life?
All believers have eternal life. However, only self-denying
believers will realize the full potential of
eternal life both in this life and in the life to come (John
If any believer wants to share
fully in Christ's glory when He returns with His angels (v 27),
then he needs to suffer for Him
now. Suffering precedes glory in God's plan. It did for our Lord
and it will for His followers as
well. We must give to receive. We must lose to gain.
A "saved psyche" is the glory
of a life lived for God.
How can a believer lose his life for Christ's sake (i.e., deny
take up his cross)? By sharing in our Lord's sufferings. Peter,
the one to whom these remarks
were especially addressed later wrote. "But rejoice to the
extent that you partake of
Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may
also be glad with exceeding
joy" (1 Pet 4:13). Anytime a believer
suffers in order to obey and serve
God he is losing his life that he may
People may ridicule you because you don't drink or do drugs.
They may make fun of you at work
because you share your faith and because your language is
different. Your house and car and
possessions won't be as grand as they could be because you have
given sacrificially to the Lord's
work. You will pay more in taxes because, unlike many, you do not
cheat. You may give up
much if you leave parents and hometown to serve the Lord in other
parts of the country or in
other countries. You may even be martyred for your testimony.
The world says that you can never have enough. The
Word says that if
you want to gain a full experience of
life you must give up such aspirations. What would it profit if
we could gain the entire world for a few
years and yet lose a full experience of
life forever? We can't take it with us;
but we can send it on ahead. We
can make regular deposits to our
eternal IRAs (Matt 6:19-21).
One week after Jesus spoke these
words, Peter, James, and John saw
the Lord transfigured before their
eyes (Matt 17:1-8). They caught a
glimpse of the glory which faithful
believers will share more fully than
unfaithful believers will.
In order to have a full experience
of life now and forever we must
willingly give up our lives in service
of God. Though it seems paradoxical, in order to gain we must
Return to Grace in Focus Newsletter
Go to Main Menu