What Shall It Profit A Man?



Introduction Matt 16:21-27


This hour we are discussing one of the great questions of the Bible. You know the Bible contains many outstanding questions, ask by different persons, and for different reasons.


The first question of the bible was raised by Satan, Genesis 3:1

and addressed To Eve. He said, "Yea hath God said that thou shalt not eat of every tree of the garden"? This question was not asked for the purpose of obtaining information, but rather for the purpose of involving Eve in confusion and mis-understanding.


And then in Genesis 4 we read another question, this time God Almighty speaking to Cain. Cain had just lifted his hands up in shedding the blood of his brother Abel. And the LORD said to Cain, where is Abel thy brother"? Gen.4:9 This was a searching and embarrassing question. I suppose people on occasions need to be asked embarrassing questions. God was evidently seeking to bring Cain to a realization of the enormity of the crime that he'd committed.


Again we find in Job14:14 another question. Here he raised this point: "If a man die, shall he live again"? Evidently that was a question in search of information, a quest for knowledge.


And then another great question, The One I wish for us to consider in the present study. It is recorded in the Matthew. 16:26 Here Jesus said "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul"?

Obviously Jesus is not endeavoring to involve people in confusion, and He is not seeking information, nor is He seeking to bring one primarily to a realization to the enormity of any sin he's committed. . but rather He's seeking to emphasize the priceless value of the soul. "What shall it profit a man, any man, (you or me) if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.?"


What does Jesus have in mind here when He uses the word Soul? A careful study reveals, that this word is used with at least three different meanings in the Bible. In Genesis 46:27 we read: "all the souls of the house of Jacob, that went down into the land of Egypt were three score and ten".

The word soul in this passage is used in the sense of the person or individual. It means the totality of beings. And this is the most comprehensive use of the word.


Well again in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 25 we find the word used in a different sense. "may your spirit and soul and body, be preserved entire without blame unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The word soul in this connection is used a different sense from that which we commonly see it used. Ordinarily we think of soul as being a synonym of the word spirit, but it isn't n this passage. Because the word spirit is used. "May your spirit and soul and body." The word soul in this verse evidently means the animal life. The life that exists as a result of the union of spirit and body. When the body dies, then this animal life dies, the spirit does not.

For our present study, we're using the word soul in still a different sense. Not meaning the whole of man, nor the animal life, but rather as it refers to the immaterial side of man's being, as opposed to the material.


We're using it in the sense that our LORD used it in Matthew 10:28, When he said,

"be not afraid of them that kill body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather be afraid of him that is able to kill both body and soul in hell".


Here Jesus uses the word soul, in contrast to the word body. The word soul here has reference to the immaterial side or synonymous with the word spirit as we normally think of it.


Again we find in 2 Cor 4:16 . Paul is saying,


"though our outward man is decaying the inward man is being renewed day by day." We're using the word soul in the sense of the inward man. In Eccl 12:7 Solomon said:

"when the silver cord was loose the golden ball was broken, and the picture was broken at the fountain, and the wheel at the cistern that the dust would return to the earth as it was, and the spirit would return to God who gave it." So we're using the word soul in the sense of spirit. We're using the word soul in the sense of the real person.


You remember in Acts chapter 9 , we read of the death of a good woman named Dorcus, when this woman died, they remembered that Peter was in a little village not far from Joppa where she had lived, and they sent for him. And when Peter came in to the upper room, where Dorcus was, it is said that the widows were standing around and showing the coats and the garments that Dorcus had made while she was with them.

The implication was that Dorcus was not with them in the sense that she had previously been. The body of Dorcus was there, The hands that had administered to their needs were present, but were life-less and cold. The eyes that had spoken in sympathy and kindness that the tongue couldn't express were closed in their last sleep. The body was simply the instrument through which the real Dorcus had rendered service as she lived in the flesh.


When we talk about the soul we mean the spirit, we mean the immaterial incorruptible side of our very being.

26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul


Frequently in the Scriptures the value of things are shown by contrasting them with other things of recognized value. When Paul would emphasize to the Corinthians the superior value of love, he contrasted it with things the held in esteem and recognized as being priceless. He said 1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. Now they could appreciate the value of eloquence, Paul contrasted love with eloquence.


Not only the eloquence of men, but the eloquence of angels. He said, 1 Cor. 13:1

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.


I think the implication is that angels have a language different from men. He's not talking about the language they use when talking to men, because they would use the language of men. But he's talking about the language they use when angels address angels. The eloquence of men is a marvelous thing, but what must be eloquence of angels when angels speak to angels, or to God Almighty? And Paul said if I could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love I have become as a clanging brass, or clinging cymbal.

That would emphasize the superior value of love, wouldn't it?


But again in verse 3


3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Here he contrasts love with generosity. He said if I bestow all my goods, not part, not the major portion, but if I bestow all my goods, gave all that he possible could, but gave through some motive, not involving love, he wouldn't be rewarded. The receiver might be blessed but the giver would not.


And Then He Contrasts Love With Martyrism. Martyrism has been held in high esteem in all ages. It's the supreme sacrifice. We revere in a righteous and proper way the memory of our Christian martyrs, and we respect our patriarch dead who have died as martyrs. Paul said if a man should give his body to be burned through some motive other than love it wouldn't profit him anything. It's conceivable that a man might go to the stake, and perish in the flames as did Wycliffe and others, he'd receive no reward, because the motive was not right. Now these contrasts show the value of love do they not


By the same process Christ sought to emphasize the value of the soul. In the 10th Chapter of Matthew, The 28th Verse


28And 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


Christ is saying, don't be greatly concerned if you are called upon to give the body, If in administering to the well being of your own soul. If by giving your body you can enhance the future reward of your soul, don't be overly concerned about it. The body is of relatively little value when compared to the spirit or the soul, Yes our Master contrasts the soul with the body.


And then in the 2nd place, He contrasts the soul with the whole world.

26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul


Jesus is not speaking with any prejudice in this matter. If our Lord had created the soul and another had created the world, they might accuse him of being prejudice. But Jesus created both the earth and the soul of man. The knows the relative value of the two.


And in this contrast Jesus is suggesting by implication, that If a man gained the whole world, and lost his own soul, he would have suffered an incalculable loss. We can see why a man would not be profited if he should make that kind of bargain. In the 1st place he wouldn't be satisfied. Solomon said, "that he that loves silver is not satisfied with silver, and he that loveth abundance is not satisfied with increase."


You know a man thinks if he could make a half million, that he'd be satisfied, but he isn't, he wants to make another half million. He wants to be a millionaire. And then he wants to have 2 million and so it goes. There is no satisfaction in that respect. If a man could gain the whole world he wouldn't be satisfied. Alexander the great, conquered the world and then wept, because there wasn't another to conqueror.


And in the 2nd place, if a man could get the whole world, he couldn't enjoy it, he couldn't use it. And in the 3rd place if he gained it at the expense of his soul, he couldn't take it with him. and if he did it could it would just be burned up.


What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and loss his own soul? The answer is absolutely nothing. And yet there are people who are bartering their souls for a small part of the world. It's amazing how little people ask for their soul, how cheap they will sell. Judas sold himself for 30 pieces of silver. He got that money in his fowl clutch, but he didn't spent it. He never lived to spend it.


Well there are other considerations that show the value of the human soul. We Read That Man Was Made In The Image Of God. Back in the 1st chapter of Genesis, God said,

Let us make men in our image, and in our likeness. And we read that "in the image of God, created He them, male and female, created He them". Man is the only creature on the earth, that bears the image of his Maker.


Paul said in the Hebrew 12:9

"we have the fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?"


Man is made in the image of God after the spirit. God condescended to exalt man so highly. David said Psalms 8


3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:


Yes in creation, we see the marvelous value of the soul. The only creature, created after his Maker. All other creation was singular, but man bore the image of Him who made him.


And In The Next Place, The Accomplishments Of The Soul Reflect It's Value. You remember in Psalms 139:14 David said


14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Yes a man is wonderfully made in that he is made in the image of God. And a man is fearfully made in that he is endowed with such tremendous possibilities.


One man can do so much evil. Adam sinned and brought death into the world, and all our woe. Jezebel and Ahab all but brought Israel to the worship of Baal, only 7,000 knees that hadn't bowed to Baal I Elijah's day. On the other hand think of what men like Paul, and men like John and Peter did in making a better world.

And then again thinking of the accomplishments of the human soul and the very possibilities that it has. Think of your own times. It has been the privilege of some to live a few years. Think of the amazing feats man has accomplished in the last 50 to 60 years. Think about what is going on now in the realm of communications. We have men alive today that have seen us travel from the period of the horse and buggy, to the putting men on the moon. That's been a marvelous change.


It was a great accomplishment when Columbus sailed the oceans as he did. It was a great accomplishment when men put on wings to fly, and now we think nothing of spending days in the vast spaces traveling at tremendous speeds and millions of miles. Its the soul of man expressing itself in terms of its native endowments. It reflects what our Mighty Creator has done in making man.


And in the next place the value of man's soul is reflected in the conflict that waging between the forces of right and the forces of wrong. There's an age old conflict, its been going on since the garden of Eden, and will continue until the end of the world. The forces of evil led by Satan, and the forces of right led by Jesus Christ are in grim conflict, relentless. And what's it about? It's about the soul of man.


Now man may be in conflict and contention over things of relatively no importance but not so of God . I had a preacher tell me of a man who had taken grave sick. The man's daughter called him to ask him to come up to the hospital, well he got there and found out the man probably was not going to make it. He suggested that they get the family all together and have prayer. He was informed that it would not be possible. Why? He asked. She stated that 2 of her brothers had fallen out over where a fence belonged that divided the land given to them by the father. They were arguing over 3 feet of land, and had not spoken in 5 years. The father died, and they never got together to pray for him. Think of how the smallest things can cause conflict among men, but not so with God, The fact that God and Christ is in this conflict means that the soul of man is of tremendous value.

Not only is that true, but the value of a soul is seen in the price paid for its redemption. Julius Caesar was captured by a band of thieves on one occasion. They had asked $50,000.00 for his release. That made Caesar very mad. He said, I'm worth more than that. They did ask more and got more. But later Caesar captured and had all of them put to death.


But the price paid for our redemption, was the noblest price that God Almighty could give. Peter said:

18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Peter. 1:18-20


God Almighty could create this vast universe without involving Himself in the necessity of shedding even one drop of any kind of blood. And this universe is so vast that it staggers the imagination of men. One of the O.T. prophets said the host of the heavens can't be numbered. Well we know that there was a man who thought he had numbered the stars, he counted 1046, but we now know that there are billions and billions of stars, in billions of galaxies. They are so far that their light takes millions of years for their light reach us, how vast the universe is. and God could make all that without shedding one drop of blood.


But when it came to the matter of saving the soul of man it involved the necessity of the death of Jesus, God's Son. We read in John 3:16 God gave him to die on the cross, That sacrifice.. represents as nothing else does, the value of the soul. God knew what the soul was worth, and in His estimation he didn't pay to much evidently in His thinking. But He paid this tremendous price.



Again the value of the soul is reflected in the comment of Jesus of the man in Luke 12. Here is the parable of the rich farmer , a man who had lost his soul . The man who had been amply blessed with land, and conditions such to make him rich.

He said "this will I do, I will tear down my barns and built bigger, and there I will bestow all my grain, Then I'll say unto my soul, Thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. And God said thou fool. "


Men of his day may have called him a wise and industrious business man. This man had made ample provisions for his every need. But this man was a fool, because he was more interested in making a living than providing for his soul. More interested in material things than spiritual needs of his soul. More concerned about earth than heaven, And God Almighty said, he was a fool.


And again The value of the soul is seen in the joy that Its salvation produces among the angels. Luke 15:4-10 we read of the great joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over 90 and 9 just persons which need no repentance. It must be a thing of tremendous value if its salvation produces joy in the presence of the angels.


Its never said that there was joy in heaven when Columbus discovered the new continent. Its not said when some great poet writes a great poem, or story, that the angels rejoice, It not said when some great artist paints a great picture, the angels rejoice. Nor when some millionaire makes another million that there is joy among the angels. But it is said that when one soul, just one, repents there is joy among the angels. That reflects the priceless value of the human soul.


The value of the soul is reflected in the fact that having once existed it can never cease. That is one of the solemn reflections of our being isn't it? We Exist..... we live... There is not going to be any end. We're eternal from now on. - God is from everlasting to everlasting. God explains Himself as "I AM THAT I AM" But we are to everlasting. We will never cease to be. 10 million years from now we'll be somewhere. That is a solemn thought isn't it.


The things that we count so dear to us now, what will their worth be then? Those things that kept us from being faithful, what is their worth now? What will be their worth in eternity? Beloved we will be somewhere, either in a place of bliss with God, or a place of eternal, damnation and suffering. How sobering. The value of the soul. What is fame? What is money? What are the earthly things that we put such value upon what are they? They are but bubbles for a brief moment, but the soul of man is for all of eternity.

What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and loose his own soul? "What would a man give in exchange for his own soul." The saddest tragedy that the earth can produce is that of a lost soul. The most terrible mistake a man can make is to fail in saving his soul.

God Almighty has done his part. Christ shed his blood to make it possible for you to be redeemed from sin and live in hope of life eternal with the Great, Redeemer, the Great Creator, the Great God of heaven. Would you not render obedience to the King of Kings today, John 8:24, Luke 13;3 Matthew 10:32-33 and Acts 2;38. Please see Mark 15:15,16 the very words of Christ.


contact:: Ron Cope minister

email: RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone: (678)617-9658