Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.
Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?
I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?
We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.
Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)
Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!
Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!
We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
John the Baptist (or John the Immerser) stands as a key figure in Bible history. It was he who was the forerunner for Christ. He “prepared the way” for Jesus by preaching repentance and telling folks the Messiah would soon be on earth (Mk. 1:2-5). In his humility, he was quick to tell people that he wasn’t the Messiah (Jn. 3:28). John thought he wasn’t worthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes (Mk. 1:7)! In our vernacular, he was like the best man at a wedding (Jn. 3:29). He would rejoice for the groom and get out of the way (Jn. 3:30)! Those who have studied about John say that the majority of his work took place over a matter of months. Not only this, but his work overlapped with Christ’s, though John was finishing up as Christ was starting!
Mark 6 records a day that would change the course of John’s life. We know John had preached about the need for repentance (Mk. 1:4; Matt. 3:2). Yet, there was a time in which John made things “personal.” He stood up to Herod and let him know it wasn’t lawful that he’d be married to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (Mk. 6:17-18). John stood for the truth, and though imprisoned for preaching the truth and ultimately losing his life, he didn’t back down, apologize, or compromise the truth.
Such an example ought to cause us to stand up and cheer. John takes his place with so many Old and New Testament worthies who chose death over compromise (Heb. 11:32-39; Acts 7:54-60; Rev. 2:13). His brave actions haunted wicked Herod afterward. We see that when Jesus began His preaching in earnest, Herod was convinced that Jesus was actually John that he had killed. Now, we know why the apostles told Jesus that some thought Him to be John (Matt. 16:14). It is because Herod insisted John had been raised from the dead and was preaching once more (Mk. 6:14-16).
Why might Herod have made any connection at all between Jesus and John? May I suggest it’s based upon the subject matter in His preaching? Jesus came preaching, “repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), as did John (Matt. 3:2). Jesus didn’t compromise with those in error when preaching (Mk. 7:5-16), and neither did John (Mk. 6:18). Even in death, we see that just as the disciples laid John’s corpse in a tomb (Mk. 6:29), so did the disciples of Christ do this for His corpse (Matt. 27:57-60). Of course, the difference is that in three days, Jesus resurrected while John’s body remained in the grave (I Cor. 15:1-8).
Later, there were people who took note of the fact that the apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Why did they say this? For many of the same reasons, Herod saw a similarity in the teaching of John and Christ. In light of these facts, I have a simple question to ask.
Who do people think of when they see you? Do your actions and words remind people of Christ or someone else? Christ left you an example that you might follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21). Are you following Him? If not, why not? When people see you, do they see Christ in you (Gal. 2:20; Matt. 5:16)? If not, who do they see and why? Herod saw a connection between John and Jesus. Does the world see a connection between you and Christ?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark 3:1-6 records a time when Jesus was in the synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand. This event happened on the sabbath day when God had said no work was to be done (Ex. 20:10-11, 31:15, 3l; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:14). Thus, the Pharisees and scribes (Lk. 6:7) watched Jesus on this day, scrutinizing His every move. Other versions besides the KJV say “they watched him closely” in this text (NKJ, NET, etc.).
Why were the scribes and Pharisees watching Jesus (closely)? Did they want to make sure and witness a miracle? No! Were they enamored with the Lord and His power? No! The reason they watched Him so closely was to determine whether or not He would “heal” the man (i.e., work) on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:2). If they could catch Him in such an error, they could accuse Him of a capital offense (Ex. 35:2; Num. 15:32-36; Jer. 17:21-26)!
As I read this text (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), what stands out to me is that these people weren’t watching Jesus so they could show how He was a fake! They didn’t watch to show folks where the “wires” were or how He did tricks with “smoke and mirrors.” Jesus wasn’t a fraud as Simon was (Acts 8:9-11)! These people knew Jesus was the real thing when it came to miracles. They just didn’t accept what that meant for them, and so they looked for ways to accuse Him of sin!
When Jesus merely said, “Stretch out thine hand,” and the man was healed (Mk. 3:5), what “work” did He do? Is speaking now to be classified as a “work” to those people? Jesus had outwitted them, and they were “filled with madness” at what He’d done (Lk. 6:11).
As my old friend used to say, these people accepted the evidence (Christ’s miracles are real), but they rejected the conclusion (Jesus is the Christ)! Their dishonesty would lead them down a road of sorrow, unbelief, and ultimately an eternity in Hell if they didn’t repent (Jn. 8:32)!
There are people like this today, sadly. For example, think about those who say Jesus is a “good guy” or a “good prophet.” Some might say He was a good philosopher, but they deny He’s the Son of God. Here are people today who accept the evidence but reject the conclusion. They won’t accept Jesus as the Son of God! For this choice, they jeopardize their souls!
Another lesson we learn from this text is that the Pharisees and scribes, though supposed to be living in a close relationship with God, didn’t express that which God embodies -- love (I Jn. 4:8)! Love doesn’t think ill of another. Love doesn’t envy, and love thinks the best of others (I Cor. 13:4-8). We see none of those attributes in the Pharisees in this text. They were looking for a way to accuse Jesus. They were watching in the hope of finding fault. That’s not love!
Mark 3:5 declares Jesus looked upon the Pharisees and scribes “with anger.” He was angry at the people and that their hardened hearts would stand by in condemnation as He healed a man who needed it. It was lawful “to do well” on the sabbath (Matt. 12:11-12; Lk/ 6:9). Yes, menial work was prohibited and jobs wherein people might’ve been engaged all week long were to be stopped on this day, but showing compassion and mercy to another wasn’t prohibited any day of the week! Their lousy attitude had so clouded the truth that they thought being compassionate was somehow sinful. Read Galatians 5:22-23 and learn there’s no law that is somehow against one practicing the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Jesus had a lot of work to do, but He was up to the challenge! Read the book of Mark and see what facts come to life for you! There is much to learn, and perhaps it is I that’ll get an “attitude adjustment” by reading about the works and listening to the words of Christ!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (Ecc. 9:9). Solomon made it clear that a wise thing for a man to do is to spend time living joyfully with his wife. He taught this here and in Proverbs 5:18-19 and 18:22.
Too many people live in joyless marriages. For whatever reason, the spouses do not come home to joy or happiness like they once did. What happened to them? While blame might be found with both people, perhaps in the simplest terms, we have forgotten how to live joyfully with our spouse!
God instituted marriage in Genesis 2. “It is not good that man should be alone,” He said (Gen. 2:18). Thus, God made a “help” fitting for a man when He made the woman. She is his physical complement, as well as his mental, emotional, and spiritual complement. These two were made to encourage and help one another. In I Peter 3:7, God intended husband and wife to be “heirs together of the grace of life.” In other words, we are partners and companions on this earth, and part of our work is helping one another go to Heaven! How can there not be joy in a marriage when we try to help and encourage one another to go to the place of eternal joy?
Why should a man listen to Solomon and “live joyfully” with his wife? Let’s consider a few reasons.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she chose you! She could have married someone else, but she agreed to marry you and travel the road of life with you.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because even when she makes mistakes, she has your best interest in mind.
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she has bore your children and loves them. A new generation knows about Jesus thanks to “the wife of thy youth” (Prov. 5:18, 31:10-21).
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because she is the closest earthly relationship you have. Ephesians 5:22-33 tells the husband to love his wife “as his own body.”
- “Live joyfully” with your wife because you will have no better friend on earth.
It might seem odd that a man with 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3) would encourage men to “live joyfully” with one wife (Ecc. 9:9). Some might suggest that it took such an extreme measure for Solomon to appreciate what God had provided from the beginning! Regardless of what right or wrong decisions Solomon made in his life, remember that this man was endowed with wisdom above all others on earth by God (I Kings 3:12, 4:30-31, 5:12). The Holy Spirit also inspired him in his writing (II Pet. 1:20-21). As a result, there is something we can learn and apply when we read Solomon’s words. He is not only telling us the wise way to go, but he is also saying, in essence, “don’t do what I did!” Isn’t this the kind of advice we need? We need someone who has already traveled the path to come back and warn us about what we ought to do and not do. Solomon’s decision in this area of life serves as this warning to all.
Let’s listen to the words of the Preacher and live “joyfully” with our spouse (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs