Every word in the Bible is precious and important and has eternal consequences. How vital it is to read and act upon Jesus’ dialog with Nicodemas where the Lord mentions the necessity of getting born again to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-7). And let’s not forget the Lord’s teaching regarding lust in the heart being adultery (Mt. 5:28). But both of these arresting teachings are only found once in the Scriptures.
Furthermore, how filled with priceless insights is the Parable of the Sower, which is repeated three different times in the Gospel accounts, unlike some other Parables which are found once.
Few teachings of the Lord are found more than three times, but one particular teaching is found six times in all four Gospel accounts and is related to the believer’s security (salvation). Certainly this reiteration reflects its importance. It is Jesus’ repeated teaching about losing one’s life (or soul). Again, such emphasis reflects glaring truth which should not be quickly passed over. Let’s take a close look at these six Scriptures and also remember that almost all of them were spoken directly to the disciples, those who had already experienced initial salvation. Moreover, all six Scriptures contain first a warning and then a safeguard regarding salvation:
1. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mat 10:39)The Greek word for life is always psuche in these Scriptures and translated soul once. The word itself means:
heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.Psuche is used in other Scriptures and in various ways, such as the following ones:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)Certainly, Jesus is teaching we must be willing to die physically, if necessary, for the cause of Christ in Mt. 10:39. NOTE the context:
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (John 12:27)
But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (Acts 14:2)
men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 15:26)
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mk. 8:36,37)
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt. 10:37-39).To lose your soul, all you have to do as a Christian is to find your life (psuche).
2. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.Here, loss of salvation will come if one wants to save his life.
3. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
4. For whoever wants to save his life (psuche) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (psuche) for me and for the GOSPEL will save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (psuche)? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (psuche)? (Mk. 8:35-37)Soul is used in verses 36 and 37 to clarify that it is the soul of man that can be lost, which is especially clear when pondering verses 35 through 37 together. This shows the warning Jesus gave in these four Scriptures (with two more coming) is related to salvation itself and nothing less.
Mark 8:35-37 was spoken to a mixed crowd of people, both saved and unsaved. Hence, Jesus wanted those saved to know they could yet become lost just like he wanted those still on the road to hell to know the price God demands for final salvation (an actual entrance into God’s kingdom).
5. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)This passage spoken to the disciples is the first and only time of the six passages that Jesus used the word translated preserve. The Greek meaning is to rescue from death. The Lord spoke this to his disciples and hence, told them how to rescue from death their own souls.
A Christian is told by Jesus to walk with the willingness to die as a martyr at any time. Compare to Acts 1:8:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.(The word translated witnesses is the one from which we get the word martyr.) A Christian will preserve his own salvation by walking in this attitude of mind. Paul wrote:
And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Cor. 15:30,31)
6. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life (psuche) in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)With crystal clarity this verse shows that we must hate our life (psuche) in this world to keep it for eternal life (or salvation). Of these six Scriptures Mark 8:35 and John 12:25 are most clear to show salvation is the subject.
Jesus also spoke of hating our life for salvation's sake at another time:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life (psuche)—he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)In Luke 14:26, the Lord stated that a stipulation to be his disciple is to hate your life (psuche), which coincides with his teaching in John 12:25 to keep it for eternal life (zoe). According to Jesus, this is a condition to be his disciple. So again, since to be a disciple means being a Christian (Mt. 12:49,50), then we have yet another verse showing that this is all a salvation issue, according to the Lord Himself.
The word miseo translated hate found here, as well as in John 12:25, means:
to detest (espec. to persecute); by extens. to love less:--hate (-ful).The context of John 12:25 is as follows:
Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:22-26)(John 12:25 is one of the passages on eternal life, that most don’t even know exists, just like Gal. 6:8.)
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Cor 15:19)The ultimate spiritual danger of a Christian going to hell still exists, and that is by him coming to find, save, keep and/or love his psuche in this world now and therefore not preserve or keep it for eternal life.
The Christian will only remain saved by losing and/or hating his psuche now for Jesus and the gospel. (Notice how the gospel is placed alongside of Jesus himself regarding its importance. The Christian gospel includes a conditional security for the believer, 1 Cor. 15:2.) We have to love Jesus more than our own lives and our families to be worthy of him, that is, to be a Christian.
Stephen is a prime example of one willing to die for the gospel, just like we need to be! Can you identify with him regarding his willingness to die physically for the Lord and the gospel message? No doubt, he was carrying his cross and following Jesus faithfully to the end.
The Christian will save, preserve and/or keep his soul by losing and/or hating his life now, according to Jesus. (By comparing these 6 Scriptures to and with themselves this is our deduction.)
Remember eternal life for a Christian (besides being a present-tense possession) is also a promise (1 John 2:24,25), something we enter into at the end of this age (Mk. 10:30) and after the sheep/goat judgment (Mt. 25:46), if we are faithful overcomers (Rev. 2:10,11) and if we continue to sow to please the Spirit of God and don’t give up (Gal. 6:8,9).
To disown Jesus to save yourself from physical death or persecution now is a prime example of saving your life but losing it. This is clear proof that the Apostles all temporarily lost their salvation when they disowned Him for fear of their lives. See also Mt. 10:33. They regained their salvation afterwards.
Again, according to Jesus, a Christian will lose his salvation if he finds, saves, keeps and/or loves his life.
Those that stay saved, according to these safeguards from the Lord, lose their life for Jesus and the gospel as well as hate their life in this world. This is how the Christian can find, save, keep and preserve his salvation. (It is also apparent from John 12:25 that the Lord was teaching on salvation by the words eternal life.)