Jesus once told his disciples that whoever loved his life would lose it, but those who are willing to give up their lives in this world will keep it (John 12:25). This is quite an anomaly as you can’t quite lose your life and keep it at the same time. The losing and keeping which Jesus spoke of was, losing one’s self to the world and it’s desires and gaining a spiritual life which lasts into eternity. Jesus shared these teachings in the lead up to his crucifixion. He also stated that a seed had to fall to the ground and die, in order to be raised up again and live. I used to listen to my Dad perform baptismal services.
This is the line that my father used to say. ‘I am glad that I am at your burial and not your funeral.’ A burial for him meant, dying to the wages of sin and having the deeds of the flesh buried in water baptism. The idea was that the baptismal candidate would arise out of the water, a new person, the old person having been buried. I don’t have the time to argue with anyone, about the doctrinal accuracy of my father’s sayings. What I know is that I understood what he meant. Remaining in sin means staying alive to the deeds of the flesh. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour is becoming a new creature and taking on a new nature.
Paul also spoke of righteousness through faith in Christ. He spoke about our worship through Jesus and having no confidence in our flesh. This is because the works of the flesh cannot save us. We can do nothing to save ourselves and salvation is a free gift from God. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Paul was willing to give up everything for his new life in Christ. He described himself as a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee and a persecutor of the church. Paul had power, status and privilege and was a person with earthly significance. Imagine going from main persecutor of the church to being an apostle of Jesus Christ.
The apostles knew of the sacrifice and the consequences of their commitment to spreading the gospel. They saw what happened to Jesus and other disciples who promoted the gospel. Paul was among the inner circles of the Pharisees, so he knew first hand their mindset, power and of the harm that they were able to inflict on others. Nevertheless, he saw the need to reach lost souls as more important than his own life. Are you able to weigh the balance of your life’s work, to determine what percentage goes towards the furtherance of the gospel? Only what we do for Christ will last into eternity.