WHOEVER WILL SAVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the combined retreat of Calvary Road
Baptist Church and the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Wednesday Evening, September 11, 2002


"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).


Albert Barnes gives this note on the parallel verse in Matthew 10:39,

The meaning may be expressed [this way]: He that is anxious to save his temporal [earthly] life, or his comfort and security here, shall lose eternal life, or shall fail [to enter] heaven. He that is willing to risk or lose his comfort and life here for my sake, shall find life everlasting, or shall be saved (Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament, The Gospels, Baker, 1983, pp. 115-116).

Christ is giving us a rather simple thought: if you want to keep your life just as it is, you will lose it. If you are willing to lose your life as it is, you will save it. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to die physically. But it does mean that you have to be willing to give up the way you are living and thinking now. The verse falls naturally into two points:

1. Whosoever will save his life shall lose it.

2. Whosoever will lose his life for Christ will save it.

I. First, whosoever will save his life shall lose it.

As I said, this refers to losing your life as it is. If you want to keep your life just as it is, you will lose it.

Probably the greatest example of this in the Bible is Lot's wife. Turn to Luke 17:32,

"Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" (Luke 17:32-33).

After saying, "Remember Lot's wife," Jesus then gives almost the same warning that He gave in our text, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it."

Christ specifically told us, "Remember Lot's wife." Let us, therefore, do just that. In the Book of Genesis, we are told that Lot and his family separated from Abraham and his family. The Bible says,

"Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13:12).

Sodom was a city of worldliness and godlessness. It was a place where God was not respected or thought of. It was a place of materialism and sin. By the time we get to Genesis, chapter nineteen, Lot is actually living in a house in that city (Genesis 19:2).

Now Lot was a very wealthy man. He had a large, comfortable home. His wife had made many friends in the city. She enjoyed her life there. But God told Lot to leave the city because He was going to destroy it. An angel appeared to Lot and said:

"Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place" (Genesis 19:12-13).

Lot tried to get his wife and daughters and their husbands to listen. But they laughed at him. Finally his wife and daughters obeyed him enough to pack a few things and leave the city. But Lot's wife didn't want to leave. Her heart was still back there in the city. She wanted what was there. She wanted her beautiful house, and her clothes, and her friends in the city of destruction.

She was thinking about all that she would lose if she kept going away from the city. Then she heard an explosion. She looked back and fire was raining down on the city out of the sky. She must have thought, "Oh, my beautiful house! Oh, my wonderful friends! I want that! I want it!" She turned back toward the city of destruction - and the Bible says:

"His wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:26).

And Jesus said:

"Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it" (Luke 17:32-33).

If you want to keep your life just the way it is, you will lose your life forever. I have been on the plains of Sodom. My wife and I have stood on that burned out piece of ground. We saw the pillars of salt. Yes, there are pillars of salt there to this very day! Inside one of those pillars, somewhere on the plains of Sodom, are the bones of Lot's wife! She tried to save her way of living, and she lost everything! "Remember Lot's wife!" The burning flames made piles of salty material. The burning flames were a picture of Hell itself! "Remember Lot's wife!"  There are two classes of young people here tonight who need to remember Lot's wife.

First, there are new people. Like Lot's wife, you are thinking what you will lose if you turn fully to Christ. You may be thinking about what your parents or your friends will think if you become a true Christian. But when the world is on fire, what your parents think won't even come into your mind! When judgment falls, and your life ends, your parents and your worldly friends won't come into your mind! You won't even be thinking about them! You will only think, "What a fool I was to lose my life! What a fool I was to be worried about their opinion! Now I'm in Hell! What a fool I was!"

"Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it" (Luke 17:32-33).

Second, there are unconverted church kids here tonight. You, also, are undoubtedly thinking about what you may lose if you become a real Christian. What else could it be that keeps you from Christ?

I believe that deep down in your heart you want something else. Your heart is like the heart of Lot's wife. You want something back in the city of destruction! It is different in different cases. But there is some worldly thing that you really want more than you want Christ - isn't there? You may not have fully formed the thought of what it is - but you feel that you are going to miss something "good" if you get converted to Christ. Don't you, honestly, feel that way?

I warn you,

"Remember Lot's wife!" (Luke 17:32).

When death and judgment come to you, you will not be thinking about the "good" things in the world! Those things won't even be in your mind! You won't think about them at all! Then you will only think, "What a fool I was to lose my life! What a fool I was to be worried about losing something in the world! Now I'm in Hell! What a fool I was!"

"Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it" (Luke 17:32-33).

This part of the sermon is "law." It is the part of the sermon which is given to awaken you from the sleep of death. Paul was once asleep. But then the law came and thundered in his conscience and his sin became real to him, and he "died" under the weight of it.

"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Romans 7:9).

That happened to Aaron Yancy last year. He became thoroughly lost in his own eyes. I can see his face in my mind, with tears literally streaming down his cheeks, looking up at me like a man condemned to the gas chamber. I will never forget the look on his face when he became awakened to the horror of his hopelessly sinful heart!

He was alive without the law once! There was a time when he was totally careless about his soul. He could have cared less about getting saved. He covered up his lost heart with jokes and smiles. But then he came under conviction. He saw how awful his life and heart were. He gave up all hope of saving himself! His experience was close to that of the Apostle Paul. He was convinced of sin by the law.

What is the law in this sermon? The law I am giving you is this:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

That's the law. That's the law you have been breaking all your life. That's the law that will condemn you forever.

Has that particular law come home to you? Do you see that you have broken it? Will you admit now that you have broken it? Will you admit that you have not been willing to lose the comfort and security of your life? Will you admit that you have wanted to stay just the way you are? Will you admit that you have lost the hope of eternal life because you want to "save" the comfort and security of the life you have now? You are too selfish to be converted. Your heart is too lazy to be converted. You are so lazy and selfish that you never really pray to God and worship Him - and it doesn't even bother you. You do just enough in the church to get by. You never think about serving God with all your heart. You do just barely enough to get by.

In fact, that's the whole way your so-called "Christian life" has been, isn't it? You have always done just barely enough to get by. You don't have any secret times of prayer. You don't give any extra money above a tithe. You only get a few names when you go to evangelism. You don't do anything extra out of love for God. You do just barely enough to get by. Why are you this way? Because you have no love for God. You do not enjoy serving God because you don't really love God. Your religion is made up of doing a few external things. God isn't in your thoughts at all, is He? Your inner thoughts are all about how to make yourself happy, how to make yourself succeed, how to make yourself feel good. You have no thought at all about making God happy! Your whole life is centered in trying to keep yourself comfortable, happy, and safe. What is this but a breaking of the law Jesus gave?

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it" (Luke 9:24).

Isn't it true that your whole life has been centered around breaking that commandment of Christ? Isn't it true that if you never again broke any other commandment, that the breaking of this one alone would be enough to make you guilty before God? Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! You are guilty of selfish, self-loving, godless desires to save your own way of living! You have never thought seriously about voluntarily losing anything out of love for God - have you? I mean, you haven't been willing to lose anything, really, so you could please God, have you?

Therefore you are guilty of breaking this law! And the guilt of it weighs heavily upon you tonight!

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it" (Luke 9:24).

Guilty! Guilty! Vile and sinful! Selfish to the core! Self-loving! Self-pleasing! Self-centered! That's you! Guilty! Am I right, sinner?

But there is a second thought in my text. I can only touch on it briefly because our time is gone. But even though I will not speak long on this second point, it is an important one.

II. Second, whosoever is willing to lose his life for Christ will save it.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

Jesus was saying that the person who is willing to risk the loss of comfort in this life, for Christ's sake, will be saved. Now, it isn't the act of losing something that saves you! That is the error of "Lordship Salvation." No! No! You don't get saved by losing things for Christ! That would be salvation by works! That is the error of "Lordship Salvation." Note that the text does not say that you are saved by giving up things for Christ! No - it does not say that! Turn back to Luke 9:24, please:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

Notice that little word, "will." That little word makes all the difference between salvation by works and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." The word "will" is "thelo" in Greek. It means to "prefer," "delight in" or "desire" (Strong's Concordance). It is not losing your life for Christ's sake that saves you. It is willingness to lose the security of being who you are, and not changing. This willingness is the indication that you trust Christ, instead of trusting yourself! That's what the Bible means when it says,

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

You must believe on Christ. Instead of trusting yourself, you must trust Christ - whatever that will mean in your life, even if means that you will die physically for Christ in the future.

When you come to the place of saying, within yourself, "I will trust Jesus Christ no matter what happens to me," you will be saved. Will you risk losing the comfort and security of trusting yourself? Will you risk losing something you feel is "good"? Will you risk it all to trust Christ?

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

R. A. Torrey was in college. He was not saved. Part of him wanted to be saved, but another part of him was afraid that if he got saved he might have to become a preacher. He became more and more miserable. He finally got so depressed that he decided to commit suicide. He took out a straight razor, that was like a very sharp knife. He put the razor against the jugular vein of his neck, to cut his throat. Then, at the last second, he fell on his knees and trusted Christ. He was saved by trusting Christ - no matter what it would mean to him in the future. Dr. Torrey went on to become a world-famous evangelist. But it was not going into the ministry that saved him! It was his willingness to trust Jesus Christ - no matter what - that brought about his salvation.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

As Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago,

I give up myself, and whatever I know,
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
   ("Whiter Than Snow" by James Nicholson, 1828-1896).

Mr. Griffith, please come and sing that second stanza of that hymn again, as we stand together.


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. John S. Waldrip: Luke 9:23-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Whiter Than Snow"

(by James Nicholson, 1828-1896).

THE OUTLINE OF

WHOEVER WILL SAVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

I.   Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, Luke 9:24a;
Luke 17:32-33; Genesis 13:12; Genesis 19:12-13, 26;
Romans 7:9.

II.  Whosoever is willing to lose his life for Christ will save it,
Luke 9:24b; Acts 16:31.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."