Michael Youssef - The Value of Your Soul
Good evening. I'm so honored and delighted to be here with you and I want to thank the board of "Leading the Way" Australia. Without their incredible effort and hard work, sacrifice, probably this would not be here. And I also want to thank the "Leading the Way" team here in Sydney and in Australia. But I want to ask our board members, if you are here, would you stand and also "Leading the Way" team, would you please stand, right here. Thank you. This is home away from home. This is where I came 46 years ago and I had the joy of meeting my wife, to whom I've been married almost 44 years, here in Sydney. Here's what I call my redhead. My redhead has a vice at home. She keeps my head in right shape.
Jesus said, in Mark chapter 8, verses 36 and 37, "What good is it for a man," or a woman for that matter, "to gain the whole world, and yet forfeits his or her own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange of his soul"? This is the most important question in life. And the truth is this: only Jesus could have asked that question. Do you know why? Because Jesus alone knows the value of planet Earth. He alone knows where the last treasure is to be discovered and that is why he alone can stack all of the wealth of the world on one side of the scale. And then he places the human soul on the other side of the scale and he says, "That anyone who would trade his soul for this is a prince of fools". "What shall profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his own soul? Or loses his own soul"?
Christ alone could have asked that question and he asketh of every single human being, because he alone knows the value of the human soul. Far from the devaluing of life and the devaluing of soul that we see on the news every night, and from suicide that is, is on the increasing among the millennial, the young people, and all of the other stuff. For it is the value of that soul, your soul, my soul, that made Jesus leave the glories of heaven and come to earth. It's the value of your soul that brought him down to earth to live in grinding poverty. It is the value of your soul that caused the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of the universe, for a time, to have nowhere to lay his head. It is for your soul that the God of glory sweat blood in Gethsemane.
It is the value of your soul that the prince of glory allowed himself to be beaten until his flesh was torn apart and slapped until his body turned blue and black. He was spat upon and mocked, the God of glory, the Creator. It is the value of your soul that caused the God of power and might to hang helplessly on a wooden cross. It is the value of your soul that caused those spikes to pierce his hands and his feet. It is the value of your soul that compelled God in human flesh to go to Calvary and die on a cross. That's how much he loves you. That's how much he cares for your soul.
But here's an important question. A question that people asked for 2000 years. Why? Why did he do that? Why did God leave the splendor of heaven and come to earth and share our humanity? Why couldn't he just shout from heaven and say, "Hey, you folks, you people of the earth, try harder. Maybe you can make it up to heaven if you tried to live a good life". Why didn't he just do that? If you try, and if you work hard you might make it. Here's the thing, when people ask that question they don't understand that God is perfect. Heaven is a place of perfection and we are far from it. I know I'm not and that's a problem. That's a dilemma. None of us could make it, because we're not perfect, none of us, none of us. How can we go to heaven when we're imperfect and he's perfect? But God provided the solution. That is the solution. That is the crux of the Christian faith. Without this, there's no reason for the Christian faith to exist.
What is God's solution? He, the perfect one, comes in human flesh. He alone, the sinless, takes upon the sin of everyone who would come and believe in him. He bore on his perfect body the sins of everyone who would ask for his forgiveness. So, God the Father may accept every one of us who comes to him on the coattail of Jesus' perfection. That's the only way. That's the only way. And God did this so when you come to him, when I came to him, and accept his payment on the cross, to be for me and to be for you. You are forgiven eternally. Not just for a moment, not just for a period of time. Not for a season, not even for this life, but forever and ever and ever, and you'll be assured of eternity with him in heaven.
When you humbly accept his dying on the cross to be for your redemption, you'll find eternal life. When you accept his death to be your only ticket to heaven, you will be assured of heaven here and now. As a matter of fact, I tell people all the time, I said, "Eternity does not begin when you die, eternal life begins the moment you say, 'yes' to Jesus". Amen, amen, amen, amen. When you come to accept that his resurrection was done to assure everyone who put their faith in him, their own resurrection, you can escape the judgement to come and you have peace and joy, here and now, and for eternity. When you do that, you're not only forgiven and redeemed, but be assured of heaven on top of it.
Please understand that this is not a pie in the sky, in the by and by as some people say. No, but it's a testimony of millions of people. The moment they came to Christ they're life is transformed from hell to heaven. "What shall profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul"? This is an all important question and I pray that it should haunt every one of you until you answer it satisfactorily. Why? Because God loves you. He really loves you and because he loves you, he has provided only one way back to God. There's one way to come to him and only one way. Not half a dozen ways. Only one way. There's only one way for you to be accepted by God and that is through Jesus Christ. Only one way for you to have peace here and now and eternal life with him forever.
Now, there are some people who say, "There are many ways to God. All religions lead to the same thing. All religions are trying to accomplish the same thing". I'd say, absolutely not. In fact, if you studied the other religions you'd discover that it's not true. There is only one faith and that's a relationship in Jesus Christ that gives you peace here and now, joy here and now, and forgiveness for eternity. Only one. And it's not living by the golden rule. It's not doing some good things, no. It is not even being religious. God said, "Nothing will save you from the wrath that is to come, except the blood of my son Jesus. Except to take cover in the one who gave his life for you".
Listen, God makes the rule, I don't. Thank God for that. In fact, the Bible asks some very important questions and I've always been fascinated by the questions in the Bible, and they're all important. Certainly, the one I'm dealing with tonight is the most important. But if you look at the Scripture you find the Bible asks a lot of questions and begins in the book of Genesis chapter 3, verse 9, where the very first question ever been asked in the Bible. And it was asked of the first man Adam.
God asked Adam, "Where are you"? And he's asking the same question of every one of us tonight, "Where are you"? Not because God did not know where Adam was, he knew exactly where he was. Not because God doesn't know where you are, he knows exactly where you are, but when God asked Adam the question, he was asking him, "Adam, did you allow Satan to seduce you into rebellion and disobedience? Adam, did you allow some other ideas about who God is, what his commands are, fill your mind instead of the only one I gave you. Adam, did you allow your philosophical explanations to keep you from coming close to me in intimacy with me and keep you away from my plan"? And that is what he asking every one of us tonight. He's asking the same question, "Where are you? Where do you stand? Where do you stand"?
We live in a time where it's so convoluted and you don't have to take a stand, but I think we're coming into a time in the future where everyone will have to take a stand. We have sometimes this idea, that medieval idea of God in heaven with a sword waiting for you to mess up and screw-up and then whack you. I mean really, we have this convoluted idea of who God is and yet the Bible makes it clear that he loved you enough to pay for your eternal debt and he paid with his own sinless body on the cross. The God who's pursuing you and part of that pursuit is that you're here tonight. The second question the Bible asks is in Genesis chapter 4. Right, the next chapter, same verse 9. God asked Cain, "Where's your brother"? God knew what Cain did. God knew that Cain killed his brother Abel in fit of anger and jealousy. But he wanted to give him an opportunity to confess his sins.
That's why he's asking him. "Where's your brother"? Giving him an opportunity to confess his sin, because God is longing to forgive. Whether it's sins of the large or small, we categorize sin, but God doesn't. To God, sin is sin. God wanted to give Cain the chance to confess and God does the same with every one of us. Most people when they think of sin, they always think of the big sin. The murder, adultery, and stealing, but I wanna submit to you tonight that Adam did not commit any of these big sins. Did you know that? He didn't kill anybody. There was nobody to kill except Eve and she's live and well. In fact, she got him into trouble. There was no one to commit adultery with. All he's got Eve and she's his wife. So what is the sin that threw him out of the Garden? Why was he and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden? Ah, it's the root of sin.
See, we talk about the fruit. Whenever we talk about sins, we're talking about the fruit, but the fruit is not gonna be takin' care of unless the root has been takin' care of, and the root of sin is rebellion. God said, "This is my way". He said, "Well, I want to do it my way". And until you care of that root, that fruit will not take care of themselves. And then there is the third question, and that third question was asked by Job. Job said in chapter 14, verse 14: "If a man dies, would he live again"? My next door neighbor, she said, "I'm terrified of death. That I finally convinced myself when I die I just die". I told her, "That's, of course, wishful thinking".
God did not create us so that we vanish at death, no. He created us to live forever. The body will die, but the soul will go on living forever and ever and ever. Our soul, your soul, my soul, will go only one of two different places. There is no third, there is no purgatory. Only one of two places. Either in heaven with Jesus or in the pit of hell with Satan. And so, God said to Job, "Job, I'm gonna answer your question. If a man dies shall he live again? I'm gonna answer it for you and I'm gonna answer it not just in words, I'm gonna answer it in action". And so, the answer to Job's question is that on the third day after Jesus was dead and buried, he rose with all of his omnipotence, live on the third day and he was seen by 500 eyewitnesses. That is the answer to Job's question. That you will live again. I will live again. His resurrection from the dead should assure every one of us that we will live again. But then, the ultimate question is the one that I started with and I come back to here at the end.
In Mark chapter 8, "What shall profit a man," or a woman, "if they gained the whole world, and loses his own soul"? And Jesus asks that question because he knows that your soul and my soul are immortal. They will live forever. There was a day when you were not, but there will never come a day when you will not be. A million years from now, you will be alive, either in heaven with Jesus or in the horrors of hell with Satan and his demons because it really the Bible said that hell was made for Satan and made for him and his demons. And so, my beloved friends, I came all this way to tell you that your eternity exists for sure, but it is in this life that you can decide your destination. Where you're gonna spend it.
I was thinking about this and I want to tell you this true story, because it's written by some archeologists that, back in 79 A.D., when this incredible volcano erupted, rocking the city of Pompeii. Some of you may have traveled there. My family and I have been there and we walked through the, that ancient city. When that volcano erupted there were 20,000 people living in the city of Pompeii. Two thousand of them lost their lives. Among the 2000 people who died, there was a woman who obviously loved her jewelry. Here's how the archeologists put it: when the deadly rain of fire came on this city, people began to run into ships that were anchored at the nearby harbor, to escape for their life. And this woman, like many, was also trying to run for her life.
Now, of course, you don't need for me to tell you that, that escaping from danger is a wise thing. Escaping from judgement that is coming is an extremely wise thing to do, and that is why the Bible tells every one of us, "Be wise, be wise in your choices. Be wise in your decisions. Be wise and escape from the judgement that sooner or later is coming". And that is why God provided a way of escape through Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. However, this rich, beautiful woman of Pompeii hesitated just long enough to lose her life. Let me tell you about how the archeologists described this. Before running out of her house, she decided to go back and collect as much of her precious jewels as possible. She stuffed the rings in her fingers, as many as she could. And then, she was hunting for a box and bag, or something and she couldn't find one.
So she grabbed as much as she could and clutched on her chest and ran with it. But as she was running out in the street, embracing her rubies and sapphires and gold and silver, as she ran out of the house... in fact, they said these precious jewels in today's money would be worth 10s of 1000s of dollars. But alas, she tripped in her trip back to the house to rescue her precious jewels, cost her her life. Took away those precious moments that she needed in order to escape. By that time, that she grabbed for her jewels, got back into the street, the poisonous fumes from the volcano overwhelmed her. With all her trinkets in hands, she stumbled and fell and died. What profits a man, what profits a woman, if she or he gains the whole world, not just few jewels, and loses her soul? She died clutching on her prized possession. She was buried under the ashes of Pompeii with all of her wealth.
How do you know that, how do I know that? Recently, members of that excavation team displayed, she looked lovely, with her hands full of jewels. Well, you say, "Michael, I really don't like jewels. Jewels are not my problem". Well, that's all right, they're not mine either. The question that I would've liked to ask her is this: "Why did you go back for some things that ultimately would cost you your life? Why would you die for all of the wealth of the world? Not just these little jewels"? You could be clutching onto your own idea of who God is or how God should be. I hear people all the time, "God can't do this or God cannot do this. Why did God allow this and why God is this and why"?
Everybody's got their idea of what God should do. This can be just as deadly for you eternally as it was for that woman physically. You must understand, that Jesus is asking, "What shall profit anyone, what profit is it, how good is it? Will it be to you, if you have everything, but then your soul ends up perishing"? That's why Jesus and only Jesus could ask that question. Nobody else could do it. What can you really gain if you gain the whole world, if you gain everything dreamed about, and then you spend your forever in agony? What can you really gain holding on to your idea, but then gamble with your eternal future and the future of your soul? The answer is not nothing. Nothing would have been something, but the answer is this: a colossal loss. Eternity without God.
Imagine the God who tells the sun to rise in the morning, the God who tells the rain to fall, the God who lets the crops grow, the God who made and maintained this beautiful planet Earth. Imagine, living in a place where God is not there. A Christless eternity. Imagine what that Christless eternity be like. And when you reject salvation plan that only one way of coming to him, you will spend your eternity, your forever, what the Bible calls a place of utter darkness, utter loneliness. Continuously falling in that bottomless pit, unimaginable pain and torment.
Imagine that all of the evil that you see on television, all the horrors of ISIS that we see night after night. Multiply that a million times and that's the horror of that place called hell. And that will go on day after day, after day, for all of eternity. Ah, but you can escape all of that today. You can say to the one who loved you so and died for you. He lived a perfect life so that you can come and ride his coattail. "Lord, I know that you demand perfection. I'm far from it. Ah, but you, Lord Jesus, died on that cross so that you make a way for me. You died for my sins. You died for my imperfection. Forgive my sins. I accept, Lord Jesus, that you took my punishment on that cross. Come into my life. I come to you".
The Bible said that the moment you pray that prayer... Jesus said, "Those whom the Father has given me I lose none". You come and be in the grips of his hand. Even you cannot take yourself out of his hand. And I want every eyes closed, every head is bowed. Just stand where you are and I'm gonna pray with you, I'm gonna pray for you.
Father, in the name of Jesus and the power of his blood, I pray for every precious person who's standing here before you. Now, Father I pray that you protect them from the evil one, I pray that you put a siege around their mind, their heart, their spirit, their body. Father, I pray that you put a wall of fire so the enemy cannot come in and steal their joy. I pray in the name of Jesus, that you will bless them and make them a blessing. For I pray this in Jesus name, amen and amen and amen.