Irreplaceable - Irreplaceable Soul

What is the soul, and why do we need to protect it?

Chuck Martin
Nov 17, 2019    34m
In this sermon Pastor Chuck Martin explores the question, "what is the soul?". He explains that the soul is the eternal part of us that goes on after the body has died, because of this it is vital that we protect and care for our soul by placing our trust in Jesus. Video recorded at Frisco, Texas.

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I'm Chuck Martin lead pastor of First Baptist Frisco. Thanks for watching our online messages. It's our prayer that today's message will be an encouragement in your walk with Christ. If you don't have a church family that you're part of come join us. Thanks again for watching.

All right. Good morning, Frisco First. I think we've had church today, right? Man, it's been great to worship together today. Today, we come toward the end of our message series entitled Irreplaceable. Last week, we saw that time is replaceable and that time really reflects your life; your life is your time. We've looked at family, we've looked at truth, direction in life, purpose... And today we come to something that's overlooked but is essential, and that has to do with your soul. Your irreplaceable soul. You know in our culture we don't talk about the soul very much. Matter of fact, it's easy to kind of overlook because it is that immaterial part of us, it is that internal part of us, it is made in the image of God, reflecting God. But it is not - we're not able to see it, touch it, taste it, in that sense.

And so today, what I want to do is, I want to begin our discussion with really two statements, two questions that Jesus made related to the soul. Common, I mean, these are familiar passages to many of you. But if you have your Bibles, turn to Mark chapter 8 for just a moment. The reason we say the soul is irreplaceable is going to be pretty obvious because Jesus basically makes that claim in the questions that he asks in the middle of Mark chapter 8. So, I want to begin with the questions and then we'll read the passage. Okay, the questions are these:

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet, forfeit or lose their soul?

The second question is, what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

With that in mind, let's jump into scripture together Mark chapter 8 verse 34 says, then he, Jesus, called the crowd to him along with the disciples and he said to them: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves," in other words humble yourself, "take up your cross and follow me." Jesus is inviting us into a life. He's inviting us into a life prioritized by him, directed by him. In other words, not about self for him to take preeminence verse 35, here's our statement, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel," that word gospel means the good news, the truth of who I am, now known as the Gospel, is what God has done in the person of Jesus, the identity of Christ, the work of Christ, that Jesus came and bore our sin on the cross and rose again on the third day, that good news that gives us hope and life, not just now but forever, okay.

And so, he says, "whoever loses their life for me," in other words, whoever is willing to put me first in their life, who is willing to risk all in a sense, "and for the gospel will actually save it." In other words, you have to humble, deny yourself, you cannot live a life about self and keep that life is what Jesus is saying. Verse 37, "What can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" In other words, you know, it's invaluable, what could possibly take the place of the soul? And then he wraps it up with this statement, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation," in other words, if you're so wrapped up into what others think about you and about your own agenda here and now, rather than me, "The son of man will be ashamed of them when he comes in the father's glory and the Holy Angels." In other words, what Jesus is saying, you live your life all about yourself... if it's all about you, you define your identity based on self, we're going to see some other things in our study this morning, then you're going to end up thinking, man, I'm going to make a life for myself; I'm going to make a name for myself; I'm going to accomplish; I'm going to - I'm gonna be somebody; you end up in danger of losing what really counts the most. But if you're humble yourselves and see life is a gift and if you'll say God I want your agenda, your will first and foremost; I don't want to make it about me; I don't want my life to be a statement about me; I want it to be about you, then even if you lose your life, you're going to really gain it.

See there's a paradox that Jesus is teaching there, but there's a principle that I don't want us to miss this morning. So let's unpack this because if Jesus says that it's irreplaceable, you cannot exchange anything or give anything for your soul, and if he says that we're in danger of losing our soul, right, in the pursuit of how we live life, then we need to we need to see what he's saying. Because whatever the soul is, it's irreplaceable and Jesus says, is priceless.

So, what does Jesus mean by the soul? Well, it'll take me just, I'll just take a moment and share a couple of scriptures. We will not go into a deep theological dive, but I think it's important we have a context of what the Bible speaks of when it speaks of soul. I want to begin with Genesis chapter 2 verse 7; I'll put that up in on the screen. I love it in the original, the Old King James version. I'm talking about the creation account, you all the way back to the beginning... here's the first reference to the soul in the Bible. Look at Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 and it says, "Then the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground," in other words, we are created by God, the unique creation design by God. "Formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed," I love that picture, "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," don't you love that? "And man became a living soul."

Boy, that says so much doesn't it? It says that you and I are not an accident; that we are divine, designed that we are made in the image of God; that there is a purpose for your life and your existence that reflects God and his identity and reality. And when it says, "he breathed into man," in other words, life itself is a gift from God, right. And I love that description, we became a living soul. So, living soul in this sense, and often in the Old Testament specifically, basically refers to the person: the soul is the person, you know. Come on, even in the old days, we talked about the Titanic for example, the disaster, how many souls were lost? Meaning how many people died or perished? In other words, your life is your soul, okay. We also know that the Bible distinguishes the soul, or looks at the life in a complex manner, matter of fact Matthew chapter 22 verses 36 and 37, listen to what it says: "When Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment?" What is God after what is his intent? What is his purpose for us? Notice verse 37, "Jesus replied, God wants us to love the Lord your God," in other words come to him with your whole heart, "with all your heart," notice, "with all your soul and with all your mind." And so sometimes the soul is separated from the spirit or the mind, matter of fact theologians tend to fall into two camps, they have those that are trichotomous, in other words, this is an interesting concept that there is a difference between the body the soul and the spirit. And then there are those that are dichotomous, which say this basically is talking about the spiritual, the immaterial part of you versus the body and the material part of you. So, whether you land on a trichotomous / dichotomous the truth is this, your soul is who you really are; your soul encompasses your thoughts, your emotions, your will. Your soul is made in the very image of God. And your soul, in scripture because it's made in the image of God, will last forever and it's invaluable.

So with that in mind, it's so fascinating when you look in scripture, two words that are used primarily for soul: there's the word nefesh in the Hebrew, which is more than a hundred times in Psalms, for example, David talks about my soul and he says, "why is my soul downcast within me?" And he ascribes to the soul emotions and thoughts and feelings, it's that inner part of us. And in the Greek we have a word psyche or psuche, where we get psychology from, also translated life and that word is often translated the soul. It is the life, it is who we are on the inside; it is it is what makes you, you. And so, the soul is described in scripture, as having emotions, thoughts, and a will; I like to refer to the soul as the inner you. And to wrap my arms around it the best quote, or my favorite quote, when it comes to the soul, is this by George MacDonald; look at what George MacDonald writes: he says, "You don't have a soul, you are a soul, you have a body," okay. So, I want us to keep that in mind this morning as we as we look at that.

So, let's take a deeper dive, look at verse 34 again with me. What is Jesus saying? What is the context of what he saying? What is he? What is he asking of us? Notice verse 34, it says, "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said whoever wants to be my disciple," in other words, whoever wants to follow me... a disciple is someone who willingly is a learner, is someone who follows, "whoever wants to follow me must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me." And then there's that statement, "whoever who wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me in the gospel will save it." Interesting thing look at verse 35 with me. Notice when he says, "whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Now, here's an interesting thing, when he talks about the life there, whoever wants to save their life, he uses the word there for life, psuche, which is the same word that is often translated as soul. Matter of fact, it will be translated in that same statement of Jesus two verses later as the soul. And so, when Jesus is talking about losing your life, he's not just talking about your physical life, he's talking about your spiritual life. He's talking about that part of your life that will live on.

And so, with that in mind, when Jesus, in John 3:16, says, "For God so loved the world," right, "that he gave his one and only son that whoever believeth in him might not," do what, "perish but have what eternal life." He's talking about the soul. When he's talking about perishing, he's talking about a soul that misses the connection with God, that misses salvation through Jesus, that misses the purpose for which God put you here on this Earth. To perish is more than just obviously a physical death, it is a spiritual death, it is a spiritual loss. And that's what Jesus is saying, you can gain the whole world and yet lose. So, what is the context of this? You know whenever we study scripture in seminary, our professors would drill into our head over and over again, when you come to interpret scripture and you're trying to wrestle with what it means, context is king. What is the context? What is the context? What is the context?

It's interesting what the context of Mark chapter 8 is. Just a few verses before, matter of fact, let's look at it together, just a few verses before, look at verse 27 of Mark chapter 8. Jesus and his disciples went to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On his way he asked them, “Who do people say, I am?" Verse 28, "They replied. "Some say John the Baptist; some say Elijah; still others one of the prophets." In other words, they're saying, making statements about what they believed about the person of Jesus; who he is, what his mission is, his identity. Verse 29, "But what about you?" he asked, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You're the Messiah." You are the Christ. You're the son of the living God.

You see the context for the discussion for the soul has to do with our response to the identity in the person of Jesus, okay. And so, when he talks about losing our soul and when he talks about the risk of making your life all about you rather than, and missing, who Jesus is, and the implications of that in your life, it's a very interesting context. You see, what Jesus is saying, in light of who and what you say to be true about me, if I am God in the flesh; if I am God's son come on mission to redeem, forgive, save, reconcile; you know a lot of words to describe that. You and I to God, if you believe that I am the Christ the Messiah, that ought to change the direction of your life; it ought to change your identity in life; and ought to change how you orient your life, okay.

You see what we're talking about is more than praying a prayer. What we're talking about is more than just filling in a box, joining a church, being a religious person... well, I did this; I did that; well, I was baptized here; well, I attended here; well, I did that... No, no, no. I'm not talking about those things; those things are important. I'm talking about, have you oriented your life around the reality of Jesus Christ? What difference is Jesus making and has made in your life? What do you really believe? How are those beliefs being worked out in you? That's the question. That's the question.

You see you're in danger of losing your soul a couple of ways, one by trying to be your own savior, in other words, by basically pursuing your identity and your purpose apart from God. That's, I think, what Jesus is saying... is you're wanting to save, preserve your life; you want to make a name for yourself, okay. And also, by failing to humble yourself and follow Christ. In other words, it's not just, you're going to fit God into your agenda, and you'll say: well, I prayed a prayer here; well, I did that there; isn't that enough? No. It's not about, if you're thinking terms of your relationship with God, and I were to ask you are you a Christian? Are you a follower of Jesus? And you respond, well, I prayed a prayer once; well, I attend this church over here; well, you know my mama and my daddy they were; well, yeah, I guess you know, I guess you'd say I'm a Christian. What about your soul? What about your soul?

You really believe that your soul has been salvaged. Is God king of your life? It's a different answer. It's a different answer.

If you want to see an example, or an illustration, of what it looks like the gain the whole world and lose your soul, I mean, you're like, okay, it might be helpful for us to look at. Okay, where is an example of that in scripture? Okay, because Jesus clearly is talking about that. So, where else did he talk about that? Where else did they illustrate that? Well, one of the places he illustrated that is in Luke chapter 16 turn there for just a moment. One of my favorite parables of Jesus is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, okay. And it's just a masterful, I mean Jesus is such an amazing teacher. And he paints such a marvelous picture of the reality that he's warning us from and in the passage, we just read in Mark chapter 8. It's an interesting parable because it's the only parable where one of the characters is given a proper name, Lazarus, okay. And Lazarus, just so you'll know, means God is my help, or God is my hope or my strength. In other words, it's a name that reflects a faith position, if you will. Lazarus, God's my help. And then the other individual in the story is just simply known as rich guy, okay. in other words, the other guy, his identity is in what he has, not in God, and we see the implications of that in how they live their life.

Look at, look at it, it's masterful... Luke chapter 16 verse 19, he says, "There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen," okay. In that day purple was the status, I mean that was like, man, ooh, I mean it's like this guy, I mean he's styling, right. And he goes on to say, "and lived in luxury every day." Now that's a little key phrase when he says he lived in luxury every day. What he's saying is, every day was the same for this guy. What this tells us, is this guy's not a sabbath-keeping Jew. This is not a guy who adjusts his life for the commandments of God, okay. Every day, I'm living in luxury. Every day, I'm not fasting. He's, I'm not, I'm not orienting my life around worshiping God. He tells so much in so few words. Picturing two people, one has everything by way of status and achievement and the other, God is his help. Now notice how it goes on to describe them, "At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table." You're like, oh man this guy. I mean, this is a terrible picture, he has like nothing... goes on to say, "even the dogs came and licked his sores." Isn't that attractive? In other words, here's this guy, he's hungry, he's set outside the gate that this rich man lived, gated community, okay. A guy has nothing in a guy who has everything.

Verse 22, "The time came when the beggar died," in other words Lazarus died, "and the angels carried him to Abraham's side." That's a destination; he's talking about heaven, hat's a place of, where God is, right? Abraham. "The rich man also died and was buried," now notice where he is; verse 23, "In Hades," some translations say hell but he says, "where he was in torment," notice the description, "where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side." And in other words, there are two different, and he's painting a picture here, of two different eternal destinies: one with God, the other apart from God, right. One with peace, one in torment. And that word torment is not a word for torture, it means more the sense of regret, remorse, the ah angst. In other words, how could I have missed it? Okay. And then notice what it says, "when he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So, he called to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire." This is punishment. Yes.

Notice his view though, he's not asking to leave this place, he's asking that this beggar, Lazarus, would come and serve him again because he's been served his whole life. "But Abraham replied, Son," I love that, notice how, how God speaks to him in tenderness, "remember that in your lifetime, you received good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony." In other words, this is the great paradox, you who are wealthy have nothing and he who was poor has everything. Verse 26, "Besides all this, between us you and I, there's a great chasm that has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us. And he answered, Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers," and now he's showing some concern for the condition, the spiritual condition, of his family, "let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place." In other words, I don't want them to make the same mistake that I have. I don't want their life to be like mine. Verse 29, "Abraham replied, they have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. No, father Abraham, he said, but if someone from the dead," don't miss this, "someone from the dead comes to them, they will repent. And he said to them if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Clearly what Jesus is saying is, and I'm that someone. And he is saying, and that is my mission and that is exactly what I'm going to do.

But here's what Jesus was picturing; he was picturing the person who is still trying to manage God; who is approaching their life all about them, and is measuring success and identity with where they live, what they have... and in the process, they're soul is shrinking, and in the process, they're missing God. And then on the other hand, he draws a picture of someone who has it, from this world standards, literally nothing but whose God is - hope is in God. Don't miss this. Jesus is describing what he just talked about. You can have it all. You can live where the rich guy lives and you can have his lifestyle, lifestyles of the rich and famous. You can live in a zip code and yet have, at the end of it all, a soul that is unredeemed and missed the very purpose for which God put you here.

Wow. Wow.

So, if you're here today, and you go, wow, Chuck, that's really heavy. Okay. Okay, so, I have responded, I do believe in Jesus. I mean, yes, I know my priorities don't always reflect that, but my soul has been saved, my hope is in Christ. I say, awesome. Then, deny yourself and follow Jesus daily. Let the implications of that workout in your life? It's not a one-and-done. It's not a box to be checked.

You see, being a Christian means your soul is saved because of Jesus. And yes, you do not add to that, you simply receive that by faith in Christ. Being a Christian means your soul is saved because of Jesus and you put your hope and trust in him, but it does not mean that your soul is healthy. You do realize that, don't you? Your soul can be saved because of Christ, you can at some point in your life say yes to him and in sincerity turn and follow Jesus, but yet get swept up in some things that really do not lead to a flourishing, healthy soul.

Just because your believer does not mean that your soul is healthy. Having a healthy soul has everything to do with your current, don't miss this, your current relationship with Jesus; your current dependence on Jesus; and your current obedience to Jesus, okay. Are we clear on that? Your soul can be saved and yet your soul can be incredibly unhealthy. And that's why people will say, well if this person is a Christian, how come, I mean, they're not acting any different than, I mean they're... yeah. They may be a Christian whose soul is saved because of Jesus but their soul is in no way, shape, or form healthy.

So, the question I want to ask today, I mean obviously, I should ask two questions... number one: is just, how's your soul? How is your soul, in other words, implications of have you responded in faith to Jesus? Do you have confidence that your soul has been saved? Yes. That is a thing.

Second question, how healthy is your soul?

Turn to Matthew chapter 11 and we'll end with this. I love what Jesus writes, because he invites us to a lifestyle that produces a healthy soul, okay. In other words, Jesus is for us, with us, he wants us to experience not only a saved soul in a sense, but also a healthy soul. Look at what it says, I love, love, love the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11 [28-30], he says, "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." You go man, I need that today, I'm weary and burdened is a good description of where I am. "Take my yoke upon you." It's interesting, an interesting concept, we'll talk about in just a sec, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Man, that sounds attractive. And then notice what he says, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." In other words, I'm not here to put religious, a lot of religious obligation and guilt and burden on you. I'm here to show you how to live; here to give you purpose. I'm here to provide the life that you really want, okay. It's found in me.

When he invites us to come and receive his rest and when he invites us to take the yoke, his yoke, what that means is the yoke, as you know, many of you know back in Jesus' day they would, there would be a yoke that would have two oxen tied together and they would move in the same direction. And the yoke would be the two things that would hold them together, and what Jesus is saying, in using this analogy, is allow me to be your strength; allow me to set the course in the pace of your life; do life with me, not apart from me. Don't just simply live your life and then come to God with your prayer list and say oh by the way, would you bless what I'm already doing over here? Which is so often what we do. To be yoked to Jesus means to come and say this life is a gift, I want to do it in partnership. I want to do it in partnership. I want to do it in partnership.

So, how's your soul these days? How do you care for your soul? It's a great question and it's probably a whole another series of messages.

Let me just end with a few practical things. Because like you, chances are, I mean, I live a fairly busy life. And the times that it feels like the pressures, and the to do list, and the meetings, and the responsibilities, and I can't get it all done, and all of that is true in my life. That's my reality. Okay? But I know how it is when I find my center in Christ and there's some practices that I think each of us can engage in that help. If you're going to be yoked to Jesus, and the logical question to ask is simply this, well then what did Jesus practice? What did Jesus do? If I'm going to experience the life of Jesus, I need to, I need to do what Jesus did, right? And when you study the life of Jesus, one of the things you'll see repeated over and over again, is that Jesus would withdraw; Jesus would pray, so often and so frequently, that his disciples came to him and said, "Lord teach us how to pray." And what did he do? He said, you're to do every day and pray in this way: Our father which art in heaven... (start your day remembering that God is there and for you and with you) hallowed be your name... (in other words make my life today not about my glory but your glory) your kingdom come, your will... (not mine - submission) Give us this day our daily bread... (let me live today in dependence on you; doesn't mean I won't plan for tomorrow, but let me receive each day as a gift and let me live in simple dependence on you). That is a prayer. That is an attitude. That is a discipline.

You cannot experience a healthy soul without practicing the disciplines that Jesus practiced. You cannot experience a healthy soul without shutting out the noise in your life long enough to hear from God. You cannot live a healthy soul with constantly filling your mind with interruption, with messaging, with noise, because it will drown out the still small voice that makes all the difference in your life.

For me, it means a daily practice starting my day with God, remembering who I am as his child; remembering that my identity in Christ is not in the job that I have, sermons that I preach, the position that I have, but I'm a loved son.

Do you see yourself as a loved son or daughter of the king? Do you daily remind yourself of his sufficiency? Do you come back and bring your concerns to him? How healthy is your soul? If you're neglecting that aspect of your life and your relationship with God you can gain the whole world and still have an inner emptiness. And some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

So, what's your response to this today? Is Jesus really Lord of your life? Are you living like he is?

Recorded in Frisco, Texas.
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Frisco First Baptist Church
7901 Main Street
Frisco, Texas 75034