Many people engage in life-saving rescue efforts, whether it involves saving things, saving animals, or saving people. While some folks strive to save the whales, others work hard to save unborn babies; still others are busy trying to save the planet.
Consider that third example for a moment: saving the planet. Assuming you could actually pull it off, then what? Let's say that by the end of your life you had made a real dent in such a massive undertaking. OK. Good. But what about your personal well-being after that notable accomplishment? That is, what about your soul?
Jesus asked, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul?" (Mark 8:36)
Now consider this slight variation to the Lord's question:
"What does it profit a man if he saves the whole planet, and yet forfeits his soul?"
There is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to care for the planet and improve the air we breathe. But then what? How is saving the planet going to help your soul the moment your body dies?
I am not suggesting that you stop working on your personal mission, whether it be with the planet, whales, unborn babies, or some other worthy pursuit that highly motivates you into action. I am simply encouraging you to consider how the Messiah can benefit your soul for eternity.
An important question in this regard is simply: Do you take the words of Christ seriously, or not? After all, Jesus made a big deal about heaven and hell. And I mean a BIG deal.
Why shouldn't He? God is our Creator who loves us and wants to enjoy a relationship with us forever. And so of course Jesus is going to make a big deal over it, especially considering the sacrifice the Lord knew He would be making on the cross for our sins.
Jesus didn't die for the planet, but for people. The Lord loves people, and wants "everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4) And that fact of redemption will always be true whether you personally believe it or not.
The actor Sam Worthington said, "I've done a lot of roles where I'm the hero saving the planet."
But that's just make-believe and the stuff of Hollywood movies. Thankfully in the real world, there is a genuine historical hero who died to save real souls that need safe passage beyond the grave.
Unfortunately, many people seem to value the planet more than they value their own soul. They act as if they are never going to leave this planet.
"It's not that," you may say, "but it's more like, I want to save the planet so that future generations can enjoy it." OK. Great. But then what? While those folks in the future enjoy the planet, where will you be? And will your existence at that time be enjoyable, or deplorable?
"I don't think a person can know about those things ahead of time," you may say. Well if that's your position, then you disagree with the words of Christ. The Savior made it clear that a person can indeed know ahead of time where he or she is going to spend eternity.
In fact, the Savior told His followers: "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:2,3)
But paradise is only one of the places a soul can go once the earthly body expires. The other possible destination is uttlerly gruesome and terrifying.
And while we hear a lot today about global warming, how often do you consider that other kind of intense warming? You know, the kind that is extremely unpleasant to talk about and yet critically necessary to address.
Jesus spoke about the "eternal fire" of hell on a regular basis. (Matthew 25:41) When discussing the persecution of believers, the Lord said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
Jesus regularly warned people about this place of agony where unbelievers will spend eternity. Likewise, believers will go to heaven and never leave paradise and the beautiful perfection that goes with it. Jesus loved us enough to tell us about both places, and not just about paradise.
When the soul leaves the body, there are only two possible destinations: heaven or hell. There is no third option.
Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matt. 7:13,14)
This is why the Son of God was sent from heaven to die on the cross. Our sins required a perfect sacrifice as payment. In fact, if there was any other way for God to purchase our eternal freedom, do you really think He would have sent His only Son to suffer such an agonizing death on the cross?
Jesus is absolutely the only path to heaven. Peter said, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
The Messiah explained it this way: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
And John wrote these words about the Savior: "You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." (Revelation 5:9)
Do you believe it? Will you receive it? Will you trust Christ as your Savior, and then follow Him as your Lord?
If you will trust Jesus as your Savior from sin, you will be given the free gift of everlasting life on the front end of your relationship with God. (Romans 6:23) It's a guarantee based on the promises of God. And you should know this about God's promises: "It is impossible for God to lie." (Hebrews 6:18)
So if "saving the planet" is your cup of tea, just remember: The planet won't be able save your soul on Judgment Day. And so the sooner you begin a relationship with your Creator through faith in Christ, the sooner you will be prepared to stand before God as a forgiven sinner.
Spiritual conversion is necessary in order to have your name written in "heaven's reservation book," or what the Bible refers to as "the book of life." (Philippians 4:3)
Jesus said, "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels." (Revelation 3:5)
So just how critical is it to have your name written in the book of life? Well, consider this fact as revealed in one of the last chapters of the Bible:
"If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)
This shocking revelation of the future is not hyperbole. It is actual, factual, literal, trustworthy, and destined to take place. Those who shrug it off or even laugh it off do so to their own peril. And they end up in a place of bitter disappointment and unrelenting pain due to their refusal to heed God's warning.
While saving the planet is certainly in vogue today, there is something far more critical for you to address. The fact of the matter is that there are only two eternal destinations for man: (1) Paradise; and (2) the lake of fire.
And God loved us enough to tell us the truth about these two places in the "love letter" to His children known as the Bible. At the end of the day, "What does it profit a man to save the planet, and yet lose his own soul?"
While future generations may be here on earth enjoying the planet, will you be enjoying yourself while they bask in the fruit of your labor? Or will you be hating your surroundings and cursing the One who sent you to the place of "eternal fire" to pay a never-ending penalty for your sins?
If you come to Christ today and are converted, you will receive a new heart that loves the Lord and gladly seeks to do His will. God's Word describes this new life of discipleship as "the obedience that comes from faith" (Romans 1:5) once you "have been justified through faith" and "have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) Once I am "justified" before God, the Lord sees me "just if I'd" never sinned. The blood of Jesus has more than enough power to wash away all of our sins. (Eph. 1:7; Romans 5:9)
The other option is to resist the Holy Spirit and remain lost in your sin as you await your final sentence. Either way, "the Judge is standing at the door" (James 5:9) and "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." (2 Cor. 5:10)
With that reality looming just around the corner, now is the time to "repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15) as you receive the free gift of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus the Messiah.
And always remember: there are only two paths into eternity. One is broad, while the other is narrow. And if the King of Kings had not told us about it, we wouldn't have much of a clue about either one of these extreme destinations.