What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matt 16:26

by Steven Chan

Is man merely flesh and blood – and nothing else? If man is nothing more than just flesh and blood – and there is nothing beyond this life on earth, then “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor 15:32). What does the Bible say?

1. The Bible tells us that man is more than just “flesh and blood”.

It reveals to us in Gen 2:7 that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”(KJV). Man is therefore more than “flesh and blood” formed from the dust of the earth. God breathed into us the breath of life, and man became a living soul. We received from God our souls or spirits.

2. It is a fact that we will all die one day – unless the Lord returns before we die.

”And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”(Heb 9:27-28).

3.The grave is not the end of our being.

When one dies the Bible declares thus: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl 12:7). James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Upon death our flesh and blood will return to the earth from which it was first taken when God formed man. But our spirit or soul will return to God who had breathed into the nostrils of man, the breath of life.

4. We exist beyond the grave.

In Luke 16:22-24, Jesus Christ related the account of the death of two ordinary people – one who was very successful and rich and the other, one who had not been very fortunate in this life and had to rely on the financial support of others:

”So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’”

The reality declared by Jesus is that there is life after death – and that there are two different destinations that await us: one a place of comfort and the other, a place of torment.

5. The Dead will be raised when Christ comes again on the last day.

”For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”(1 Thess 4:14-18)

6. There will be a Final Judgement when Christ comes into this world a Second time (Heb 8:27-28).

The Bible records what the angels said in Acts 1:9-11:

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Acts 17:30-31: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

7. Following the Great Judgement, the righteous will be rewarded while those whose names are not written in the book of life will find themselves suffering the punishment that was prepared for the devil and his angels.

Rev 20:11-15: “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

”Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…and these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:41, 45)

8. Life on earth is brief, fragile and of uncertain duration.

James 4:13-14: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

9. Life is more than all the possessions of this world

In Luke 12:15 Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  The inspired apostle Paul wrote thus: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”(1 Tim 6:7). The awareness of the temporal nature of this life and our possessions here on earth enables us to have the proper perspective and priorities in this life – as exemplified by Job in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

10. So, “for what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26).

The good news is that God gives us hope beyond the grave: Acts 24:15: “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”

John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Isa 53:4-6: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Rom 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

An important warning from Jesus as recorded in Matt 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”