The value of a soul - Part 3 (The pearl of great price)

SERMON TOPIC: The value of a soul - Part 3 (The pearl of great price)

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 27 April 2014


Sermon synopsis: Your soul is the most valuable possession you have.

(1) More valuable than the body:
Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

(2) More valuable than the whole world:
Matt 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
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(PART 3)

In parts 1 and 2, we asked the question “Does man have a soul and/ or spirit?”

The answer is “Not according to many atheistic psychiatrists and neuroscientists, but ‘Yes’ according to God’s Word.”

Chemical psychology/ psychiatry and atheistic neuroscientists deny the existence of the non-material soul of man and view man as only a physical being comprise simply of a bunch of chemicals. They believe that all the functions of what we term soul or spirit can be explained by chemical reactions in the brain.


The materialist form of psychiatry says you’re only matter - therefore bad behaviour is due to a chemical imbalance in your brain. Thus you are sick and your behaviour can be treated by drugs which alter your chemical balance.


In contrast God’s Word says that, unlike disease, sin is something we can avoid and overcome.

Unlike real physical diseases, people sin because it is pleasurable and appealing.

People often encourage other people to join with them in sinning while, for example, they wouldn’t encourage others to have a heart attack or cancer.

God will hold you accountable for your actions – you cannot shift the blame to someone or something else.

Bad behaviour is your fault and the problem is with your soul. You don’t need a pill! Your soul (which many psychiatrists deny that you even have) needs to be regenerated by God – you become a “new creation”.


Materialists maintain that the physical world is all there is, and that man has no soul. Consequently, death results in physical extinction or annihilation and there is no such thing as immortality.



In contrast, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)


Christians are dualists i.e. they believe that there are two worlds:

a physical tangible material world that we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear

and a spiritual world that we cannot experience with our five senses

While theologians debate whether man is composed of two or three parts, for the purpose of this study we shall use the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably, addressing that aspect in Part 4.

The body of man was lifeless until he received the breath of God.

Gen 2:7 (KJV) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


Billy Graham says, “Your soul is that part of you that has judgment. It makes decisions—moral decisions—what is good and what is bad. Your soul also involves your will. Your will chooses or rejects things that are brought before it. Your soul is that part of you that has emotion, like love and fear. It has memory—the mental capacity for storing up knowledge of ideas and events. There is something down inside us that is beyond science to know. The Bible calls it soul or spirit.” 1

1 articlepage.asp?articleid=8768


According to Forbes magazine the world’s richest man from 1995 to 2007 and again in 2009 and 2014 was Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. The net worth of Gates soared over $100B in the 1990’s.

According to if he worked 16 hours a day, every day of the year, Bill would make almost $9M (~R1.2B) per hour. That’s more than most people make in their life.

He earns about $116,000 per minute, which turns out to be almost $3,000 (~ R40k) a second. He makes more in a second than most people do in a month.


But all the wealth of Bill Gates is less than the value of your soul. In fact all the wealth in the world is not worth the price of your soul!

Q: How valuable is your soul to you?

A: Your soul is the most valuable possession you have.

More valuable than the body:

Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

More valuable than the whole world:

Matt 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?


Why is your soul so valuable?

It is eternal and does not cease to exist at death...

Rev 6:9-10 … I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you … avenge our blood?”

2 Cor 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


Your soul is valuable because it is made in God’s image...

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The soul is what enables us to comprehend abstract concepts, to appreciate things of beauty and to have a moral sense of right and wrong.


The soul is what distinguishes us from the animal kingdom:

Psalm 8:4-8 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.


The value of your soul can be measured by God’s concern for saving your soul.

2 Peter 3:9 … Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The value of your soul is measured by Satan’s interest in it. He is after your soul.

Luke 8:12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.



The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matt 13:44)

What is the treasure and who is the man?

Contrary to popular opinion the treasure in this parable is not Jesus and we are not the man. The same misconception is prevalent with the Pearl of Great Price in the adjacent parable.

If the treasure is Jesus, why would the man hide it again when he found it?

The treasure was hidden or ‘lost’. It is incorrect to say “I found the Lord”. The Lord was not lost – we were!

“Salvation is a work of God for man, rather than a work of man for God.” – L.S. Chafer


The sheep doesn’t search for the shepherd – The shepherd searches for the lost sheep (Luke 19:10).

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.



The world

In these kingdom parables the field has always been the world. (Matt 13:37 “The field is the world…”)



The man in all the other kingdom parables (Matt 13) has been Jesus.

The parable is about a man who sold all he had to purchase the field (the world) so that he could possess a treasure. DID WE SELL ALL WE HAD TO PURCHASE THE WORLD, OR DID JESUS?


The true church

Jesus bought his ‘treasure’ with His blood:

Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

We must interpret Scripture with Scripture.

We are the ‘treasure’ that Jesus found in the world. Like the man in the parable, Jesus left the treasure in the world:

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.


And like the man, Jesus is coming back for his treasure.

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 14:3)

Again like the man in the parable Jesus purchased the entire world in order to obtain the treasure in the world.

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 Tim 4:9 …we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe.

So although Jesus potentially saved the world (no limited atonement), only those who believe (the true church) will be his treasure.


Q: How did Jesus purchase his treasure?

A: With his blood.

Rev 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.


Q: Why did Jesus do this?

A: Because he loves us:

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But God loves us while we are still sinners i.e. he sees a hidden value or potential.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus says we are “like treasure hidden in a field”.


Q: Did Jesus purchase us grudgingly or joyfully?

A: When the man found the treasure “he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


We are valuable to God. Seeing Jesus as the man who considers us a “hidden treasure” that he found in the world is totally consistent with Jesus’ three parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each case, Jesus seeks something that is lost, but which he considers valuable.

Each time, when the valuable coin, sheep or son is found – there is rejoicing. And so Jesus and the angels celebrate when a lost soul is restored to God.


Luke 15:5-7 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


Luke 15:9-10 “And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”



But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

(Luke 15:32)

The treasure was hidden – the man who bought the field saw a hidden value that the seller was unaware of.

In 2007 Thomas Schultz and his friend Larry Joseph - who are both investors - purchased a bungalow in Bellport, New York for $300,000 - with the intention of renovating it.

But inside they found thousands of paintings and drawings by obscure Armenian-American artist Arthur Pinajian, who had died in 1999 at the age of 85. 1

1 news/ worldnews/ northamerica/ usa/ 9916472/ 30m-of-Arthur-Pinajian-art-found-in-Long-Island-garage.html


Arthur Pinajian

Pinajian, a former resident of the property who struggled to find success in the art world all his life, had instructed that the works be thrown away when he died. His wishes were ignored, and they remained gathering dust amid bugs, vermin and mould. 1

1 Ibid

The previous owner suggested that Thomas Schultz should just “throw them out” because he assumed that they were worthless. But Schultz decided to keep them.

The abstract impressionist’s paintings were put on display at a gallery opened by Schultz, as well as in Manhattan’s Fuller Building, on sale for up to $87,000 each.

According to the Wall Street Journal the collection has now been valued at $30 million.

So for an investment of $300,000 in the run-down cottage, Schultz found a treasure trove of art worth an estimated $30 million in the garage.


Thomas Schultz sorting through artwork by Arthur Pinajian Photo: Kirk J Condyles

Thomas Schultz saw something valuable where others saw no value. He disregarded their suggestions that the paintings should be thrown away. He invested in them, even though he had no guaranteed return. He treasured the artwork, framed it and put it on display. And it turned out in the end that he was right. The artist’s works were masterpieces of great value.

This true story is a modern equivalent of Jesus’ story of the Hidden Treasure. Like Schultz, Jesus saw hidden value and potential in us and wasn’t prepared to simply throw us away. Instead he made an investment, because he believed the return would be greater.



Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matt 13:45-46)

Like the hidden treasure, the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ has often been incorrectly linked to Jesus. The merchant is not a lost man seeking salvation. In harmony with the other parables in this discourse, the man in this parable is Jesus.






1) The Sower

The world


2) The wheat and tares

The world


3) The mustard tree

The world


5) The hidden treasure

The world


6) The pearl of great price


We interpret Scripture with Scripture:

If we look at the seven “kingdom” parables in Matthew 13, when explaining the parable of the wheat and tares - Jesus said, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world…” (Matt 13:37-38)


People will pay high prices for objects that seemingly have little value.

E.g. a copy of the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do” signed by all four members of the group recently sold on eBay for $13,350 (R170k).

In March 2014 a pair of coats worn by George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the 1965 film “Help!” were auctioned for a combined £115,000 (R1.9M).

Q: How do you determine the value of any object?

A: Ask any real estate appraiser. The value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it.


Q: How valuable is your soul?

A: Well how much was Jesus prepared to pay for it?

1 Cor 6:19-20 says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”

The price that Jesus was prepared to pay for it was his life. So he valued our souls as worth the life of the Son of God. Isn’t that staggering? Our souls are like a pearl of great price.



In the parable the merchant “sold everything he had” to possess the pearl. Jesus also laid aside everything he had and came to earth to pay the ultimate price to redeem our souls.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Jesus said that your soul is worth more than the “whole world” (Matt 16:26). He calls us a “Hidden Treasure” and a “Pearl of Great Price”.

In the Hindu caste system the Dalit people, the ‘untouchables’, the poorest of the poor, are still considered to be of no value. Because the mere touch of a Dalit is considered ‘polluting’ to a caste member, the concept of ‘untouchability’ was born.

Hindus believe that people are born as untouchables as a form of punishment for misbehaviour in a previous life.

A Dalit is actually born below the caste system (hence the term ‘outcastes’), which includes the four primary castes of Brahmins (priests), Kshatriya (warriors and princes), Vaisya (farmers and artisans) and Shudra (tenant farmers or servants).


A person born in the untouchable caste cannot ascend to a higher caste within that lifetime; untouchables have to marry fellow untouchables, and cannot eat in the same room or drink from the same well as a caste member.

Dalits are the scavengers, the removers of human waste and dead animals, leather workers, street sweepers and cobblers.


In June 4, 2008 – Gospel for Asia reported:

Despite the fact that the caste system was outlawed more than 50 years ago, it continues to have a strong hold on much of Indian life. Throughout the country, Dalits are still systematically abused and work as virtual slaves. They are constantly told they have no value. 1

Maya Devi, a 28-year-old Dalit (“Untouchable”) woman, writhed in labour pains outside the maternity wing of a medical college as her sister and neighbour looked on helplessly April 23. Seven hours after doctors denied her treatment at the hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India, she gave birth to a baby boy. The baby died minutes after being born due to a lack of medical help. 1

1 news/ articles/ dalit-woman-newborn-die-after-hospital-refuses-treatment/


According to a report by the Press Trust of India, because of her caste, the hospital’s chief superintendent and other doctors refused to touch Devi or provide her with medical treatment while she was in labour.

But Dr. Kiran Pandey, head of gynaecology at the hospital, refused to let the social stigma of the caste system get in the way of caring for this “untouchable” mother. Dr. Pandey was an hour away from the hospital when she found out about Devi’s situation. She rushed back as quickly as she could and brought the unconscious mother into the intensive care unit. But for all Dr. Pandey’s efforts, Devi died the following day after a series of heart attacks. 1

1 Ibid


Devi died because, in the Hindu mindset, her life had no value. But no matter what your race, gender, financial position, education level or social status is – you are of value to God.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God values you even if you’re not physically attractive:

1 Sam 16:7 … “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Pet 3:4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.


It was battered and scarred and the auctioneer Thought it scarcely worth his while To waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good folks”, he cried, “Who starts the bidding for me?” “One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two? Two dollars, who makes it three?” “Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three”

But, No, From the room far back a grey haired man Came forward and picked up the bow, Then wiping the dust from the old violin And tightening up the strings, He played a melody, pure and sweet, As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer With a voice that was quiet and low, Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?” As he held it up with its’ bow.

“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?” “Two thousand, Who makes it three?” “Three thousand once, three thousand twice”, “Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered, But some of them cried, “We just don’t understand.” “What changed its’ worth?” Swift came the reply. “The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, And battered and scarred with sin Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd Much like that old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, A game and he travels on. He is going once, he is going twice, He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes, And the foolish crowd Never can quite understand, The worth of a soul And the change that is wrought By the Touch of the Master’s Hand.

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” was a classic poem which speaks of the worth of the soul. It was written by Myra Welch, who was in a wheelchair suffering from severe arthritis.

She lost her ability to play the organ. so she spoke through her poetry. She would take a pencil in each of her badly deformed hands and, using the eraser end, would slowly type the words, the joy of them outweighing the pain of her efforts. Her words were an expression of a soul that was touched by the Master’s Hand.


Myra Welch (seated) (1877–1959)

Jesus says you are valuable:

Matt 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matt 12:11-12 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!...”

Matt 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”


… what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt 16:26)


Because your soul is so precious, you ought to take good care of it.

Billy Graham says, “We tend to put all of our emphasis on the body with its pleasures and its physical appetites. But the soul also has appetites. The soul longs for God. Down deep inside every person’s heart is a cry for something, but he doesn’t quite know what it is. Man is a worshiping creature. He instinctively knows that there is something out there somewhere, and he longs to know that something or someone. Your soul longs for vital contact with God.” 1

1 articlepage.asp?articleid=8768


Horatio G. Spafford was fairly well-known in 1860’s Chicago, and this not just because of his legal career and business endeavors - the Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody.

In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. His only son died of scarlet fever at the age of 4. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was destroyed by the great Chicago Fire.

Horatio Spafford (1828-88)


Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take them on holiday to England. And not only did they need the rest – D.L. Moody was traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns and they planned to join and assist him later.

Just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Anna and the children left with Horatio to follow on later.

9 days later, he received a telegram from his wife in Wales which read: “Saved alone.” Their ship, the ‘de Havre’, had collided with another ship and sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people.


Anna had stood on deck, with her 4 daughters clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up.

When she was rescued, her first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, “You were spared for a purpose” and she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”

Upon hearing the terrible news, Spafford boarded the next ship to join his bereaved wife. During the voyage, the captain called him to the bridge to point out the spot where the ‘de Havre’ had gone down. Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul”


Jesus asked, “what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26) You can’t afford to lose your soul, for if you lose it, you lose everything.

Have you made a poor bargain by trading your soul, which is priceless in God’s eyes, for some cheap pleasure or sin?

Have your forfeited your soul in your quest for riches or comfort?

Have you traded your soul through laziness or procrastination – failing to make right with God today – and putting it off until tomorrow?

2 Cor 6:2 … Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (NLT)


Luke 12:17-20 (NASB) And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’

Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’

‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’

The farmer made plans to store his crops and possessions, and plans to enjoy himself. But he neglected to plan for his soul. God was not part of plan for the future. He did not consider God at all. His life was busy in pursuing comfort and not on pursuing God. His thoughts centre around building bigger barns, but Jesus gives a new perspective - he won’t live to see them. This man had a vision for his future where he assumed that he would be around to enjoy his wealth – not knowing that that night would be his last.

James 4:13-14 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.


Jim Croce was a popular musician in the early seventies. His second US No. 1 hit was “Time in a Bottle”, a love song speaking about eternity and his desire to save time in a bottle in order to spend it later with the one he loved.

Ironically when it topped the Billboard charts in January 1974, Jim Croce was dead – having died in a plane crash in September 1973.


You don’t know when your time is up. We are just one breath away, one heartbeat away, or one accident away from eternity.

Heb 9:27 … it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (NASB)


What if you heard the words the farmer in Jesus’ parable heard: “This very night your soul is required of you” or “You will die this very night” (NLT)?

Would you be ready for that? Are you ready to give an account for the way you’ve lived or is there still some secret sin that you’d wish you had dealt with? Are you ready to give an account for what you’ve done with the money and wealth that God has blessed you with? Are you ready to give an account to God for the way you’re using your body and managing your appetites? Are you ready to account for the way you’re spending your time and energy and for what you’re doing with your talent and abilities?

Are you able to say, like Horatio Spafford, in the midst of trouble and adversities, “It is well with my soul”?



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

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