25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit his own self?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
I. The Major Hindrance to Discipleship.
A. Jesus calls it "gaining the whole world".
B. Beneath this descriptive phrase is a "faith" position.
1. The "faith" that drives the "acquisition" mentality is rooted in what Jesus called "the soul", but our translators called one's "life".
2. At the root of "the soul" is one most fundamental reality: the condition of one's emotions.
a. The "soul" is fundamentally the center of what we call our "emotions". It is necessary for us to understand that the soul has two most basic aspects. One of those aspects is the ability to declare what significance a given perception has. The other is the auto-response to that perception in emotional terms (joy, peace, anger, fear, etc.)
b. The main problems for the soul are two: first, the soul's ability to declare the significance of a given perception is "bound" by the degree of understanding that it has (wise or foolish); and, second, the soul has no ability to actually alter the object of the perception.
3. At the root of the soul's "faith" system is its most fundamental "mechanism" for handling the "problems" (foolishness and inability).
a. Biblically, this "mechanism" was established by God in terms of a "relational harmony" between Himself and the one who is "a soul".
b. Sin introduced two major corruptions.
1) The first major corruption was the shifting of the focus of relational harmony from God to another/other person/people. This was the very core of Adam's sin. It was a very basic failure to "love" God enough to "trust" Him.
2) The second major corruption was the shifting of the focus from other creatures to monetary wealth. This occurred because those "other creatures" invariably, eventually, are proven to have other commitments that are greater than their commitment to the one seeking what the soul seeks, but "money" can generally be used to "buy" a greater level of commitment from them.
4. When Jesus called for "disciples", He promised them no "salary" and, instead, revealed that the only way one could actually be a "disciple" was the way of "denial of the self", "daily crossbearing", and "active pursuit of Him". But not even Jesus gets very many disciples on these bases, so the visible "church" has long since abandoned His foundations and has opted for "hiring" its "emotion stabilizers".
II. The Major Question.
A. Jesus asks it in this form: "What is the profit of self-destruction?"
1. There are two terms involved in this question.
a. The first term is translated "lose" in regard to "himself".
1) This word is widely used by biblical writers and very often refers to "ultimate" loss in the specific sense of being cast into the final abode of the wicked, Gehenna.
2) There are a few times when this "loss" is limited to "physical life" (as in Luke 9:24) and does not carry the weight of "ultimate, eternal loss".
3) The conclusion is this: it is a very serious word about very serious "loss" -- not something that can be cavalierly dismissed.
b. The second term is not so widely used (only six occurrences in the New Testament), yet its uses are sufficient to give us a sense of the meaning: "to have no further ability to use something to one's advantage" (Note Philippians 3:7-8 particularly). This might be relatively minor (as in the loss of cargo as in Acts 27:10), or it may be eternally great (as in 1 Corinthians 3:15).
2. Neither term unambiguously signals "eternal, total, condemnation of the whole person" of itself, so we cannot assume that Jesus was warning those (who believed in His redemptive work but were unwilling to trust in His daily provision for disciples) that their "eternal Life" was totally at stake. This is not to say that it is acceptable to "lose" in the sense of this term, but it is to retain the fact that "forgiveness unto justification" is not tied to whether one manages to "be" a legitimate disciple over one's lifetime in this world. This is at least a part of Paul's "theology of the Cross" in 1 Corinthians 3:15.
B. Jesus' thesis is this: God has never accepted man's perversion of His methodology.
1. Men have a pronounced tendency to embrace a thing as "true" at one point and, then, later accept the accusations of "untruth" against it so that they embrace its opposite.
2. Because of this tendency, men need to understand this: Truth never actually changes. It is often our perceptions of It that deepen and make us think in terms of "change", but if a thing is ever "true", it is forever so.