Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Recognition, Part 13: the Saving

For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:24-25 NASB)

The "saving" mentioned here is a complex issue and one we need to examine carefully. The word translated as "save" in both instances is sōzō, and is a word that can have multiple meanings. To the woman with the hemmorhage, Jesus used the word sōzō when He said, "Your faith has saved you."  In that instance, sōzō meant "made whole". In this verse, however, the word is used twice and has a different meaning each time. 

"Whoever wishes to save his life" is the first use of sōzō, and in this case, it indicates the preservation of the physical life. In this instance, Jesus says that the one whose focus is to save his physical life (even at the cost of denying Christ), will end up losing his soul-life. This indicates a denial of Christ rather than be martyred (physical death). Our refusal to abandon the life we hold dear for Jesus will cost us dearly in the end.  

There is a tendency in the church today to assume that "there is grace to cover that".  There is certainly far more grace than we deserve available to cover our sins, but we, in this country, tend to be entirely too cavalier about our Lord and the life to which He has called us. Jesus, Himself, spoke these words, and we do well to take heed. "But whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:33 NASB) What about that is not clear? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot deny Christ and, at the same time, be a faithful follower. Discipleship is costly. Jesus never indicated that it was otherwise.  You cannot stay the same and be a disciple. It is the nature of a disciple to become like the master. This decision of whether or not we will deny Christ to save our physical life is not one that can be made in the heat of the moment. This is a decision that must be made ahead of time and lived out in a consistent routine of dying to self, so that we can hold firm to our faith when the trial comes. 

The enemy of our soul would have us believe that this willingness to die for Christ is only for fanatics, not the "routine believer".  Dear ones, there is nothing in the words of Christ that offers the option of being a "routine believer".  Jesus called us to radical faith as a disciple and it was the only option He offered. 

"Whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it" is the second use of the word sōzō, and indicates the preservation of life in a spiritual sense, the saving of one's soul. In this instance, the disciple is willing to die for Christ physically, having first died to self spiritually. Jesus indicates here that the willingness to die physically for Him (which must be preceded by a willingness to die to self) may result in physical death but not the death of the soul. This is a great promise from our Lord, who said, "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32 NASB)

It is the decision to die to self that must be made, for it is only after a willingness to die to our own selfish, worldly desires that we can be willing to die for Christ physically. Does this physical death seem unlikely? Our brothers and sisters around the world are imprisoned and dying for the cause of Christ on a daily basis, and we, too, could easily face this persecution. 

There are decisions to be made. Will you be a disciple of Christ or not? Will you be willing to die to self on a daily basis or not? Will you stand for Him if it means you must die for Him? Preservation of our soul comes as a result of a choice to relinquish our life for the one Jesus offers, and it is a choice we cannot avoid. Choose well, friends. Your eternal life depends upon it.