My Soul Is All I Have

My Soul Is All I Have

March 10th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM

Mark 8:36-38

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? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
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MY SOUL IS ALL I HAVE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Mark 8:34-38

3-10-91    10:50 a.m.

 

The title of the sermon is I Have Just My Soul.  In the eighth chapter of the Book of Mark, we have come to the last verses.  And our Lord avows, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:36-37].

Antallagma, used just twice in the Bible, here and in Matthew 16:26, “What would a man give in exchange, in equivalent price, for his soul?”  In the New Testament there are 946 questions asked: in Matthew 163, in Mark 114, in Luke 135, in John 165, in Acts 67, in Romans 86, in 1 Corinthians 112, in 2 Corinthians 18, in Galatians 23, and in the rest of the New Testament 63.

This Book out of which we preach is a Book answering the questions of life.  Pilate, “What shall I do with Jesus, called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22].  Again, “Art Thou,” Lord Jesus, “the King of the Jews?” [Mark 15:2].  The Pharisees to Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” [Matthew 12:10].  And again, “Why walk not Thy disciples after the tradition of the elders?” [Mark 7:5].  The Herodians to our Lord, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” [Matthew 22:17].  The rich young ruler, “What good things shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [Luke 18:18].  Paul, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” [Romans 6:1].  And again, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31].  The Book of Hebrews, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” [Hebrews 2:3]. The Revelation, “For the great day of His wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?” [Revelation 6:17].

And in my reading, oft do I come across some of these questions addressed to the deepest concerns of the soul.  What shall it profit the church to erect fine buildings if the pews remain empty?  To train eloquent preachers if the people are not there to hear them?  To seek to evangelize the world if our own land remains unchristian, our home mission offering?  To engage in social reform if our youth lack Christian ideals?  To reclaim thousands of adults, if millions of children are allowed to wander from the fold?

And this question: “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? [Mark 8:36].  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:37].  Trading my soul, exchanging my soul for my bodily life, my present existence, what shall I profit if I spend my life taking care of this body which is food for the worms?

I live in this kind of a world.  There will be a mother—and her number is multitudinous—will pour her life into taking care of the physical existence of a child and then let the soul of a child be damned in eternity.  The child is brought up with no knowledge of God, no sacredness on the Lord’s Day, using the weekend for pleasure and entertainment and Sunday to sleep it out.

How much did the Word of God emphasize the difference between our bodies and our souls, the sōma, the body, the psuchē, the soul?  The Bible begins like that in the first chapter of Genesis.  The Scriptures avow that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” [Genesis 1:27], in the “image of God.”  God does not have a body: created in the “image of God,” it’s our souls!

In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a nephesh,” a living soul, in Greek a psuchē, in English “a soul” [Genesis 2:7].  An insect has life, a bug has life, a lice has life, a vermin has life, a frog, a snake, but God created us in His own image, in His own likeness.  He poured into our own living bodies the breath of life [Genesis 2:7], and we became nephesh, soul, psuchē.  It is the greatest gift that we possess, and shall I trade it for food for the worms?

Again, shall I trade my soul for the success, and the wealth, and the money, and the fame, and the fortune, and the success of the world?  It is one of the most pertinent parables our Lord ever avowed:

A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesses.

The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

He thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, I have no room where to bestow my goods?

Then he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater…

And I will say to my soul, Soul—psuchē—thou hast much goods…

take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God, but God, said unto him, Thou fool, this [night] thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

[Luke 12:15-21]

Shall I trade my soul for the things of success and money and affluence in this life?  A young pastor was called to a church in West Texas, far West Texas.  In the fellowship and the membership of the congregation was a rich rancher, a vast, vast acreage and a vast, vast spread.  And when the young fellow came to be undershepherd of the church there, he was invited to spend the day and night with the rich and famous rancher.  They spent the day together, the rancher and the young, new pastor.  The rancher showed him his vast spread, showed him his prize bulls, his registered white-faced Hereford cattle; all of the things that spoke of wealth and success.

When the evening came to the rancher’s home, and there was a pretty girl, all dressed, and left.  And the young pastor said, “Who is that?”  And the rancher said, “That’s my daughter.”  And the young pastor said, “How many children do you have?”

“Just one.  That’s she.”

And the young pastor said, “Who is the young man who has come for her?”  And the rancher said, “I don’t know.”  And the young pastor said, “Out here, where the distances are so great, where is she going?”  And the father said, “I don’t know.”  And the young pastor said, “What are they going to do?”  And the rancher said, “I don’t know.”  And the young pastor said, “And when will she be coming back?”  And he said, “I don’t know.”  And the young pastor, in describing that to me, said, “Think.  Here is a man who day and night thinks of his prize bulls and his registered cattle and his vast herds, but he has no idea what is happening to his own child.”

What shall a man give in exchange for his own soul? [Mark 8:37].  Wealth?  Success?  Prize?  Fame?  Fortune?  Affluence?  These things of the world are so empty, unrewarding.  There is no thing in history and literature more poignant than the cry of Alexander the Great, weeping because there were no more worlds to conquer, sought to drown his disappointment and frustration in drink, and died in a stupor at thirty-three years of age.

I do not know a more poignant story in literature than that of Herodotus.  When [Cyrus] the Persian conquered Lydia and Sardis and took captive Croesus, the richest king in the world.  Today we use his name adjectivally to describe a wealthy man, Croesus.  And when [Cyrus] placed him in the midst of a burning fire, Croesus called out, “Oh Solon, Solon!”

And Cyrus said, “Why is he calling Solon?  Who is Solon?”  And he took him from the burning fire and asked, “Solon?”  And Croesus replied, “He is the great Athenian philosopher and lawgiver who came to see me.  And when I showed him my treasures and my wealth, I asked him, ‘Am I not of all men most blessed?’  And Solon replied, ‘Call no man blessed until the hour of his death.’”

These things can be so empty, ill-rewarding.  Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” [Ecclesiastes 12:8].  And when the man comes to die, and he is surrounded by his titles to everything and his wealth, and when he stands before God, what is the difference between a monarch and a slave in the great judgment day of the Almighty?

One of the astonishing things to me in history is the darkness and the blindness of the story of all humanity and mankind to the worth of the soul.  Dear God!  And the earth was filled with violence and blood and murder [Genesis 6:11-13], and God destroyed it in the days of the Flood [Genesis 7:21-23].  And in the days of Elijah [the earth], given to carnal excesses in temple worship—that is, temple prostitution.  In the days of our Lord Jesus, under Caesar Augustus, giving themselves to empire and to might and to conquest; and today, giving themselves to money and to pleasure and to material possession.  How empty are all of these things to which mankind gives itself in exchange for the soul.

Adam, for the forbidden fruit [Genesis 3:1-6]; paying for it with his life, death [Genesis 3:19].  Cain, giving himself to revenge and jealousy, then a cursed vagabond in the earth [Genesis 4:8-12].  Achan, for a Babylonish garment and a wedge of gold, facing the judgment of God [Joshua 7:20-26]; Lot, seated in the gate of the city, the mayor of Sodom, escaping the fire [Genesis 19:1, 15-17]; Ahab, entering into his vineyard and the blood of Naboth crying to God from the ground [1 Kings 21:16, 19, 22:38].  Judas Iscariot, for thirty pieces of silver selling our Lord, then driven to suicide [Matthew 26:14-16, 27:5].

This rich man, facing the day of judgment, then whose are all of these things to which you have given your life?  [Luke 12:17-20]. O God, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [Mark 8:37].  Trading it for the pleasures of sin for a season.  What a trade.  What an exchange!  For hundreds of years the legend of Faust continued in Germany, who sold his soul to Mephistopheles, the demon, for pleasure.  And then the day came when Mephistopheles came to take his soul.  Ah!

I have wandered around, as many of you have, in that vast mausoleum in Forest Lawn, Glendale, Los Angeles, and just looked and remembered all of those famous stars; Marilyn Monroe committing suicide, Jean Harlow living a despicable life, Rudolf Valentino died in the very strength and pride of life of venereal disease, and big, strong Rock Hudson cursed with AIDS.  Great God, what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  [Mark 8:37].

Thank God there is a beautiful and preciousness in the endowment of our Lord in our lives, in these human bodies.  There is a preciousness God hath bestowed upon us, beyond anything the world could ever buy, or trade for, or exchange.  Precious gift of God, my soul; the only thing I really possess, precious in the sight of the Lord.  Dear God!

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,” just one [Luke 15:7].  In the tenth chapter of Matthew, “Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Heavenly Father” [Matthew 10:29].  In the eighth chapter of Acts, taking Philip away from a great and mighty revival [Acts 8:5-13], in order to present the gospel and the message of salvation and hope to one man, an Ethiopian [Acts 8:26-39].

A man one time said to me, “I don’t believe in God.  Why should I?  In this vast universe, this speck of an earth, and in the earth this speck of a you, why should God care anything about you?”  I said, “Let me ask you something.  If you owned the most beautiful mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City, filled with gorgeous tapestries and paintings and carpets and furniture and all of the accouterments of wealth, and in the house is one little baby, yours.  And while you were in one of those tall skyscrapers in an office, your telephone rang, and the man on the other end of the line said, ‘Your house is on fire!  Your house is on fire!’  You tell me.  Would you say, ‘Oh, how is it with my carpets, and my tapestries, and my paintings, and my furniture?’  Or would you say, ‘Great God, man!  How is it with my baby?’”  And I said to him, “If you had a heart, if you had love, you would ask, ‘Is it well with my baby?”  That’s God.  With all of the vastness and glory of His universe, it is you that is precious in His sight—you.  “What shall I give in exchange for my soul?”  [Mark 8:37].

I do not know of a more dramatic and beautiful incident in Christian history than this: there was a nobleman in England by the name of Rowland Hill, he was marvelously converted and gave himself to preaching the gospel, and the power of the Lord was with him.  Never a building could hold the people, and he preached out in the open so very much—preached to thousands and multitudes, Rowland Hill.

He took a part of his vast fortune as a nobleman in England and built a glorious church on the King’s Highway Street in London.  He was on the steps on a Sunday, he was on the steps of that great church preaching to a vast multitude of people, thousands of people; they filled the streets in front of him.  And while Rowland Hill was preaching the gospel of Christ, there came Lady Erskine in her gilded carriage, driving to a meeting of the nobility of England.  And coming to that street and the vast throng in it, the driver made his way, made his way, made his way, and finally couldn’t move anymore.  And she was there in front of Rowland Hill.  He recognized her, knew her.  And the great preacher stopped and offered her for sale, and said, “Who will buy her?  Who will make a bid?”  And the great preacher said, “The world makes a bid,” and described what the world had to offer for her soul and for her body, “then the devil makes a bid,” and what the devil bid her soul and her body.  And then he describes what Jesus does in making a bid for her soul and for her body.  And bless God, she came under conviction; she bowed her head there.  She gave her heart to Jesus in that golden carriage, and gave her life and her vast fortune to the Lord Jesus.  And an English poet wrote it like this:

Will you listen, friends, for a moment,

While a story I unfold;

It’s a marvelous tale of a wonderful sale,

Of a noble lady of old;

How hand and heart, at an auction mart,

Soul and body, she was sold.

‘Twas in the broad King’s Highway

That a noble preacher stood,

Telling the fallen and the low

Of a Savior’s love, and a home above,

And a peace that they all might know.

All crowded around to listen;

They wept at the wondrous love

That could wash their sins, and receive them to

His spotless mansion above;

While slow through the crowd, a lady proud,

Her gilded carriage drove.

“Make way there, make room,” cried the haughty driver,

“You’re closing the King’s Highway;

My lady is late, and their Majesties wait:

Give way, give way, I pray.”

The preacher heard, and his soul was stirred,

And he cried to the rider, “Nay!”

“Your [grand] fete-days

And fashion and ways

Are all but perishing things.

‘Tis the King’s Highway, and I’ll hold it today

In the name of the King of Kings.”

Then—bending his gaze on the lady,

And seeing her soft eyes fall—

He cried, “And now in Christ’s name, a sale I proclaim,

And bids for this lady call.

Who will purchase the whole—

Her body and soul,

Coronet, jewels and all?

I see three bidders—

The world steps up as the first;

The world says, ‘I will give her my treasures and pleasure,

For which my votaries thirst;

She shall dance this day, most joyous and gay,

And receive a quiet grave at the worst.’

But out speaks the devil boldly—

The kingdoms of the earth are mine.

Fair lady, thy name, with an envied fame,

On their brightest tablets shall shine;

Only give me thy soul, and I will give thee the whole.

Their glory and wealth to be thine.’

Then he addresses the Savior,

“But pray, what hast Thou to offer—

Thou man of sorrows unknown?”

And He gently said, ‘My blood I have shed,

To purchase her for My own.

To conquer the grave, and her soul to save,

I trod the winepress alone.’

Thou hast heard the terms, fair lady,

That each hath offered for thee.

Now, which wilt thou choose, and which wilt thou lose,

This life, or the life to be?

The appeal is mine, but the choice is thine,

Fair lady!  Which of the three?”

She took from her hand the jewels,

The coronet from her brow.

“Lord Jesus,” she said, “as she bowed her head,

The highest bidder art Thou.

I take Thy offer—and take it now.”

“Amen, amen!” cried the preacher;

And the people wept aloud.

As the lady and throng were swept along

Who formed that awestruck crowd.

And in heaven,

The Savior has cherished His purchase,

And around that radiant seat,

A mightier throng, with a joyous song,

The wondrous story repeat.

And a form more rare, is bending there,

Laying her crown at His feet.

[“Three Bidders,” author unknown]

A soul, precious to God, precious to you.

Somebody complained in a revival meeting, “We had just one response, a child.  The meeting was a failure.”  And somebody replied, “If that child had been mine, I would say, ‘It was a great success.’”

My soul is all that I have.  Great God, may I not exchange it for this human flesh that rots or for the fashion of the world that passes away.  May I honor Thee, O God, with the love and devotion of my deepest soul.  I give it to Thee.

And to the throng in God’s house, accepting the Lord as your Savior [Romans 10:9-13], coming into the fellowship of His church, answering the call of the Lord, on the first note of the first stanza come and welcome.  While we stand and while we sing.

My Soul Is All I Have

Mark 8:34-38

3/91

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Introduction

Questions in the Bible

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Questions confronting the church

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I.    The Soul in Exchange  antallagama – “equivalent”, “price”

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1.    Lost in a trade for this present body, life

(1)   For the body – this existence

   – ultimately food for the worms

cf.  a mother (family) tireless care for the child, then

to damnation in eternity

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(2)   The difference between the human soul, psukee, and life

Gen. 1:27   after the beasts of the forest, cattle of the fields

“created after his own image . . . .”  God’s Spirit

Gen. 2:7    “breathed . . . . a living soul”

(a bug has life, an insect, a frog, a rat,  but man has a soul)

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2.    Lost in a trade for success, riches, fame, fortune

Lk. 12:16-21

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(1)   Lk. 12:16-21

(a)   The ranch man and his daughter

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(2)   Empty reward

(a)   Alexander the Great, weeping, because no more worlds to conquer

Disappointment drowned in drink, died at 33 in a drunken stupor.

(b)   Eloquent story in Herodotus, Caesar, Cyrus, “Solon, Solon”

“No man can be presumed happy until the hour of his death.”

(c)   Solomon, theme of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”

riches, pleasures, great works

(d)   Dying, heaps of gold, titles

applause of men         then before judgment bar of God

fame, success           }     the monarch, the slave

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   blind, dark                 anything

 history                        everything     but the exaltation

(3)   The spirit of the world, a denial of the worth of the soul

i     days of Noah – violence, murder, blood

ii    days of Elijah – carnal excuses of idolatry (temple prostitutes)

iii   days of Christ –  power, conquest, Empire, like Hussein

    Augustus Caesar –

iv    today – love of money, material possessions

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But what gain in it all?

Adam –      pleasant fruit, then death

Lot –       mayor of Sodom, then must leave to escape the fire

Achan –     the wedge of gold, pieces of silver, Babylonian garnet,

then the judgment of God

Judas –     30 pieces of silver, then the drive to suicide

Rich fool –  cf. Lk. 12:16-21

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3.    Lost in a trade for “the pleasures of sin for a season”

                  The theme of Faust, Mephistopheles   centuries of German legend

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Moses gave it up

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iii   days of Christ –  power, conquest, Empire, like Hussein

    Augustus Caesar –

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