the 28th of January, AD 814, in southern France, the great emperor
Charlemagne was buried in an unusual way. He was seated on a marble chair
and wrapped in his emperor's robes. In his lap was a copy of the New
Testament with his finger pointing to this verse: "For 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?" (Matthew 16:26). Of all
the questions asked of men about eternal matters, there are few as
penetrating as this one asked by Christ Himself.
How can we possibly know the value of
"the whole world"? If we were able to determine the amount
of cash, stocks, bonds, gold, and investments held in all of the financial
institutions of the world, and calculate the value of global real estate,
include the content of all museums and art galleries we would only
begin to discover the value of "the world".
records the account of Alexander the Great who conquered all the nations
of his day. His empire had boundaries but he knew of no nations beyond. He
could travel thousands of miles within his borders, had millions of
men to fight his battles, and when he gave orders all obeyed.
had everything this world had to offer—wealth, fame, power, and then
wept because there were no more nations to conquer. His ambition was
insatiable and the "whole world" was not enough to fill the
desire of this man. Ask him now if the whole world was worth the value of
Furthermore, the great king Solomon who
lived in the golden age of Israel, had riches, power, and wisdom. He kept
back nothing from his heart's desire. He had everything this world had to
offer and he summed it up this way, "Vanity of vanities; all is
vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
We may not have aspirations to take over
the world or even to be a millionaire. We may never gain noticeable
worldly status but if our hearts are set on material things and worldly
gain occupies our mind, we may be in danger of equating these things with
the value of our souls.
This is a solemn question because it is
dealing with our eternal soul. Man is made of body and soul. The Scripture
is clear that at death the spirit is separated from the body. If our soul
exists forever it must have a value that is beyond human calculation.
There is no estimable value that can be put to something that is eternal.
In stark contrast, many commodities are traded on the stock markets of the
world. Billions of dollars change hands every day and traders make and
lose fortunes by the hour. But what sort of value can be put on something
that will outlive all material things? When the fierce Caribbean storms
enveloped the gold laden pirate ships, many sank and lost everything
because their captains refused to throw their treasure overboard. Is this
a picture of your life? Are you treasuring things of this world and
in danger of losing the most important thing?
It is also a solemn question because it
deals with eternity. The Lord Jesus revealed a state of conscious
existence after death when He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.
The rich man who enjoyed a life of wealth, the best of food, and the
finest clothing, lifted up his eyes in hell being in torments. What
remorse and utter terror when he realized he was in a place of no return
or escape for there was a great gulf fixed between him and paradise. He is
now in that place for all eternity. Was the value of his soul worth the
few years of pleasure on earth?
Christ gave more than the value of the
whole world to save your soul—He gave Himself an offering and a
sacrifice for sin. He died on the Cross of Calvary to take the punishment
of our sins. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just
for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Peter
It is at the Cross where you see the true
value of a soul. There, God gave His only-begotten Son who became obedient
unto death, even the death of the Cross. This is the estimation God has
placed on your soul. No other price was sufficient to redeem you but
the blood of Christ. He "loved me and gave himself for me"
There is one issue in this life that is
more important than all others. It is your soul. Yet how often do you
focus on minor things, being so engrossed in this life with its many
responsibilities, but not concerned with the essential one. You have taken
care of the body but the infinitely greater part has been neglected.
Repent of your sin and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from
your sin. This is your only hope.