Good News: Millions of Lives Lost|
The daily news is filled with the latest reports of how many lives have been lost in tragic accidents, natural disasters, epidemic diseases, wars, terror strikes, and murders. This world is so violent and these events are so frequent that we have become almost immune to the news of lives lost. Perhaps we have become too focused on the numbers involved in these reports. If we hear that three hundred lives were lost, then we think that was tragic, but if only one or two lives were lost, then it wasn’t too bad. However, God doesn’t view the news in this way, for every life is precious in His sight. We should view life in the same way.
Rather than the typical bad news, let’s consider some good news involving the loss of lives. Does that seem impossible? Could there be good news when lives have been lost? As unlikely as it may seem, there is good news that concerns the loss of lives, and only God knows how many millions have been affected. Moreover, many more lives are likely to be lost, which makes this news even better.
The good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the lost lives are those souls who have died to their old, sinful, and meaningless ways of life in order to follow the Lord. Consider the words of Christ in Matthew 16:24-26:
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
In the nearly two thousand years since Jesus said these words, untold millions of men and women have lost their lives in order to find them, and that is good news indeed. Through faith in Christ, these people have realized that nothing matters more than eternal, spiritual life, and therefore they were willing to give up anything in their temporal lives that would prevent them from following Jesus and finding eternal life.
Notice a few examples of lives that were lost when people gave up what was important to them and followed the Lord. There were the brothers Peter and Andrew, who gave up their fishing trade, and the brothers James and John, who did the same and left their father to follow Jesus (Matt. 4:18-22). All of these became apostles of the Lord, who spread the gospel through the world, and lost their lives in the process. James lost his physical life when Herod put him to death with a sword (Acts 12:1-2), and tradition holds that most of the other apostles were martyred as well. Matthew, who also became an apostle, is another example of one who left his way of life to follow Jesus (Matt. 9:9). The apostle Paul also gave up everything that was dear to him in this life and counted it "as loss for the sake of Christ” so that he could "attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:1-11). Other examples include: Zaccheus, who changed his sinful practices as a tax-gatherer and gained salvation (Luke 19:1-10); the Ephesian magicians, who burned their magic books when they turned to Christ (Acts 19:17-20); and the Christians at Thessalonica, who "turned to God from idols to serve a living a true God” (1Thess. 1:9-10).
The good news is that all of those who lost their lives for the sake of Christ have found new life in Him. They were baptized into Christ’s death "in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so [they] too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). They were then "dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Whatever they gave up for the sake of Jesus has been and will always be worth the sacrifice.
We also can share in this good news if we will lose our lives in order to find them. This does not mean we have to sacrifice our physical lives in order to please the Lord, but rather it means that we have to change our worldly ways and live for Him. Notice Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Another way to explain this is given in Galatians 2:20 – "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Is this good news for you? Are you willing to lose your life in order to find it? Will you give up your way of life that you learned from the world via traditions, culture, public school, college, popular media, etc.? Will you live your life strictly according to God’s word in the Bible? Will you let the world determine your course of life, or will you following instructions such as those given in Titus 2:1-10? If you are unwilling to lose your life for Christ, then the gospel has only bad news for you. Don’t be like the rich young ruler who went away sorrowful because he would not lose his life of wealth and possessions to find his life following Jesus (Matt. 19:16-22). Join the millions who have lost their lives for Christ, and let the gospel be good news for you.
Stacey E. Durham
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