Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will pay out wages to each person according to what he has done.
A person can correctly answer Jesus' two questions if he/she knows the facts of sin and of eternal judgment. Fact: All people have sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Fact: There will be a final judgment for unbelievers and for believers (believers - 2 Corinthians 5:10; unbelievers - Revelation 20:11-15). Correctly answering Jesus' questions will make a difference in a person's life now and forever.
What is sin? Sin is doing what Jesus, the Creator God, says not to do. Lying, when the word of God says, "Do not lie to one another" (Colossians 3:9), is sin. Sin is not doing what God says to do (James 4:17). When a person doesn't "Rejoice in the Lord always," (Philippians 4:4), sin has happened. It is a fact that death is the wage of sin. If we sin once we receive the wage of sin (James 2:10; Romans 6:23). What is death? Death is when our body dies (Hebrew 9:27). Death includes the "second death" which is when our soul and spirit are cast into the Lake of Fire and suffer an eternity of torment (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8).
What is eternal judgment? It is when all people will be judged for how they lived their life. Who is the Judge? God, the One seated on the "great white throne" (Revelation 20:11) for unbelievers. God, the One seated on the "judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10) for believers. Note: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - Matthew 28:19 ..."baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." What is the evidence that the people will be judged by? The books of their life (Revelation 20:12) and the "book of life" or "Lamb's book of life" (Revelations 20:12; 21:27). All people will be judged for what is written in the books of their life - all they thought and did. After the Judge looks at how the person lived as recorded in the books of his/her life, then the Judge will look in the book of life. If a person's name is in the book of life, the person will not receive the wage of the second death, eternal torment. If the person's name is not in the book of life, then the person will receive the wage of eternal torment and be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). The unbeliever's name is not written in the book of life. The believer's name is written in the book of life.
How does a person get their name written in the book of life? The person's name is written in the book of life when the person repents of his/her sin and believes the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). When a person believes the gospel he/she has passed from death to life (John 5:24). Jesus paid the wages of sin on the cross. In John 19:30 Jesus stated in His last words before dying, "It is finished," or better translated, "It is paid in full."
When the believer is judged in the final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10), he or she will receive rewards for what was done for Christ, but will receive pardon for every sin committed (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" The answer: "Eternal torment." What can a man give in return for his life? The answer: "Nothing, the wages of sin is death and all have sinned." What will profit a person now and forever is repenting of sin, believing the gospel and living in accordance with God's word by faith in the Son of God. The profit is abundant life now and eternal life in a new heavens and earth (John 10:10b; Revelation 21:1-4).