The One Thing You Can Never Lose

I’d like you to help me make a list this morning, a list I’ll write on this board.  I want you to think of things that Jesus asks us to be willing to give up to follow Him.  He would say things like, “If you’re going to follow me, you must…”  I also want you to think of things that people have given up to follow God.


Family, father, mother, sister, brother, land, houses, freedom (in jail), control, money, possessions, reputation, health, friends, your life.


Jesus warns that if you follow Him, you could lose any of these.  The list is staggering.  Even troubling. By the way, this is one more reason why I believe Jesus is God.  Some people say Jesus never claimed to be God.  Well, He certainly did.  But perhaps even more powerfully, He would talk as if He was God.  No Bible prophet EVER said people should give up their life or family or possessions to follow him.  In reality, only God could ever stake that kind of claim.  That is why I am using the terms God and Jesus interchangeably.


Now, when you look again at this list, you might just sum it up and say that God asks you to be willing to give up EVERYTHING.


But you would be wrong.  There is one thing that God will never ask you to give up.  There is one thing you can never lose.  I want to read two different passages from the Bible, and I want you to help me answer the question:  If you follow Jesus, what can you never lose?  What will he never ask you to give up?


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39


Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5-6


So, what is it?  What will God never ask you to give up?  (Take responses.)


If you decide to follow Jesus, the one thing you will never lose is…Jesus.

You may lose all your money, but you never lose Jesus.

People may think you are an idiot or narrow or a loser, but you never lose Jesus.

You may lose control or security, but you never lose Jesus.

You may lose your health, but you never lose Jesus.

You may lose your job or your home, but you never lose Jesus.

You may lose your family, but you never lose Jesus.

You may be killed for following Jesus…but you never lose Jesus.

Jesus: When you follow me, you get me for good, but you may lose everything else.


This leads to the most important question in all the world:   Are you good with that?

Or here are the other variations to that same question:

Will you still follow?

Is He worth it?

Is He enough?


I would like you to hear how three different people weighed in on that question, two people in the pages of the Bible and one person in the 21st century.


The first man, Asaph, wrote his answer in a song.  Asaph was a Jewish worship leader living in the time of King David.  He wrote Psalm 73 in the Bible.  He was frustrated and discouraged.  He looked at people around him who wanted nothing to do with God, but they seemed to have everything.  They were healthy.  They were wealthy.  They were prosperous.  They were winning.  It seemed like the followers of God were not faring nearly so well.  He’s confused and frankly admits that he is bitter.  But he has this moment when he comes to the sanctuary or house of God.  Perhaps he was preparing to lead worship, when He realizes what he has.  His song, written to God, has these words:


Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  25 Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:23-26


It’s like he has this moment where he says, “what was I thinking?”  Then he pours out his heart to God in song: I’ve got you God forever.  You are always with me.  You hold on to me.  You guide me with wise counsel, and one day you’re taking me home to glory.  There is nothing in heaven more precious than you, God.  There is nothing on earth more precious than you, God.  By health may fail and my very heart may fail, but you God are my strength, and you are my portion forever.”


This word “portion” is significant.  You can substitute the word “inheritance.”


So Asaph, if you lost everything else, and all you had left was God, are you good with that?


Asaph: “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”


In the second “half” of the Bible, the New Testament, the Apostle Paul answers this same question:


But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—”  Philippians 3:7-10


So Paul, if you lost everything else, and all you had left was Jesus, are you good with that?  You still going to follow?


Paul: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”


Now, when you love Jesus this deeply, strange—almost inexplicable—things begin to happen.  In another passage, Paul says something staggering.  He says He would be willing to give up Jesus for one thing.  Curious what that might be?


I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. (Romans 9:2-4)


Jesus was so precious to Paul that he wished He could lose Jesus if it meant that other Jews would find Jesus!  I have no words for that kind of love.  I have never been there; don’t know if I ever will be.


Now Mabel will weigh in on our question: Is Jesus enough?


John Ortberg, author of The Life You’ve Always Wanted, met Mabel at a convalescent home.  I’ll let him introduce you to her. (Read his account)


So, Mabel, you are blind…in a wheelchair…with cancer…almost deaf…alone…25 years in a forgotten nursing home.  You have lost virtually everything but Jesus.  You good with that?


Mabel would answer—DID answer—the question with a song:

“Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all.  He is my strength from day to day. Without him I would fall.  When I am sad to him I go, No other one can cheer me so. When I am sad He makes me glad. He’s my friend.”


Asaph: “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

Paul: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

Mabel: Jesus is all the world to me.


You hear stories of people who make extraordinary sacrifices to follow Jesus, to serve other—people who take huge risks, and you wonder why they do it.  You wonder why they can be so at peace, why they can take such risks.  Perhaps it is because they are not focused on what they could lose, but are focused on what they can never lose.


Jim Elliot, who died taking the good news of Jesus to an Ecuadoran tribe, said as much:


He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.  Jim Elliot


Contentment and courage and joy and peace all come from a similar root: We never lose God.


Songwriter after songwriter has found words to express this passion and reality that God is everything, and having Him, we need nothing else.


Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise.  Thou my inheritance now and always.  Thou and thou only first in my heart.  High king of heaven, my treasure thou art.


“I will be with the one I love…with unveiled face I’ll see.  There my soul will be satisfied, soon and very soon.”



“I want to see my Savior first of all, before on any other I would call, and then for countless days on his dear face I’ll gaze.  I want to see my Savior first of all.”


“All I once held dear, built my life upon, all this world reveres and wars to own.  All I once thought gain I have counted loss, spent and worthless now compared to this: Knowing you, Jesus, Knowing you.  There is no greater thing.  You’re my all, you’re the best, you’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love you, Lord.”


Jesus is worth everything.  This is why Jesus, without blinking, asks us to follow Him no matter what else we lose in the process.  To give up Jesus for anything else would be our greatest loss, a terrible tradeoff.  It is why Jesus asked the probing question: What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world but loses his own soul?


You see, God IS your soul.  He is what you and I are made for.  To lose Him is to lose US.  God is our soul, our possession, our core, our very life.  He is at the center of the deepest unmet longings of our hearts.  If you have wealth of every kind: family, friends, work, health, money, land, pleasure, food and you don’t have God…you’re poor, desperately poor.


So I finish today with this question, will you follow Jesus no matter what it costs you?


As I have talked today, I know what some of you have felt is guilt.  You hear the words of these songs. You hear a story like Mabel’s and you think: “I’m not there.”  I wrestle with losing things.  I know this is my struggle.  My great grief is that I often love God’s gifts more than I love Him.   But don’t feel bad that you struggle.  Just keep struggling.  Keep saying, I’m going to follow.


I Have Decided to Follow Jesus  “Though none go with me…”  Still I will follow!

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