Vol: 94 Issue: 21 Tuesday, July 21, 2009
We use the word ‘soul’ a lot but nailing down exactly what is meant by the word ‘soul’ is a bit trickier. Pretty much all religions that acknowledge a deity also acknowledge the soul.
Even religions that don’t have a deity believe they have a soul. There are some who believe in reincarnation but not a Creator God — a rather odd view, really. Who decides whether the next time around whether you’re gonna be an aardvark or a platypus?
Do platypi (or platypuses??) have souls? Where did they come from? Where do they go?
I once saw a movie called “Defending Your Life” written by atheist comedian Albert Brooks. In the movie, Brooks arrives in the afterlife to undergo judgment which would determine in what form he would be reincarnated.
Since Brooks is an atheist, there is no devil and no God in his afterlife. But belief in the soul is universal. Even atheists can’t help themselves. It is hard to deny the existence of you.
That is why the afterlife exists even in religions that deny the existence of God. Your soul is the part that makes you ‘you’ and not somebody else.
Every human being has a living soul. The soul is the part that makes a man alive.
Your soul is the immaterial part of your existence. The Hebrew word for soul, ‘nephesh’ is variously translated as “person” (Genesis 14:21), “self” (Leviticus 11:43), “life” (Psalm 31:13), “me” (Judges 16:30), “creature” (Genesis 1:21), “beast” (Leviticus 24:18), “man” (2 Kings 12:4), “thing” (Ezekiel 47:9), and “fish” (Isaiah 19:10). When translated “body” the nephesh is usually dead (Leviticus 21:11).
The Greek word for soul, psuche, has the same meaning. In Matthew 16:25 Jesus commends anyone who will lose his soul (psuche) for Christ s sake. It is often translated simply as “life” (Matthew 2:20).
It means “person” (Acts 7:14). “My soul” and “your soul” are idiomatic expressions meaning “I” and “you” (Matthew 12:18; 2 Corinthians 12:15.
The soul is not the spirit. The spirit is the part of man that was created in the image of God.
“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. . .” (Genesis 1:26) What does God look like? Does the Bible tell us?
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
John 1:18 says; “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.”
1st John 4:12 makes a similar declarative statement: “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
No man hath seen God at any time because, as Jesus told the Samaritan, He is a Spirit. He cannot be seen. What does your spirit look like? That’s what God looks like, since we are created in His image.
The soul is the part that hosts the spirit. But the spirit of man pre-exists the soul. “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.” (Genesis 2:7)
Note that God formed man of the dust of the ground. A human body is composed of some sixty different chemical elements, all of which are found in ordinary dirt. But it was just a body.
Then the Lord God breathed into Adam’s nostrils ‘the breath of life’ and — watch this — man became a living soul.
God didn’t insert Adam’s soul — He breathed life into the body.
The Bible teaches that a baby has a spirit at conception. John the Baptist leapt in the womb when he came in contact with Jesus, also still in the womb. David speaks of God knowing him from conception.
But David didn’t know himself at conception. David didn’t have a soul until he drew his first breath. The breath of life is more than just a phrase. It isn’t until one exits the womb that one’s experiences begin to shape one’s sense of self-awareness, which is that intangible part of man that is the soul.
The soul must be saved. The mechanism of salvation is the ‘quickening’ of the spirit.
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.” (1st Corinthians 15:45)
The word “quickening” is an old English word meaning “to make alive”, “animate”, “invigorate” or “vitalize.”
At one’s birth, one’s spirit is alive, but the soul is essentially empty. That is why babies that are aborted or stillborn go immediately to heaven. At some point in a soul’s life, it becomes aware of right and wrong as concepts rather than as cause and effect. Then the spirit ‘dies’ although the soul continues.
A two-year old understands “NO” brings negative consequences. A ten year old understands disobedience and the concept of ‘sin’ whether or not he calls it that. The Apostle Paul explains:
“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. ” (Romans 7:9) Paul is speaking of his spirit, which was alive until he understood what it meant to disobey the commandments, and sin ‘killed’ his spirit — but not his soul.
Paul writes that the “last Adam” (Jesus) was made a “quickening Spirit.” All sinners are spiritually dead and all men are sinners. So all men were spiritually dead until the second Adam made it possible for the spirit of man to be revived, made alive, vitalized or animated.
Jesus only made it possible however. It’s not automatic. The soul of man must first come to Jesus and confess its shortcomings.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” At that point, the Holy Spirit indwells the human spirit, ‘quickening’ it. Jesus was made a “quickening Spirit” in the sense that He made it possible for the cleansing of the soul.
Do you see the difference? The Bible says that “the soul that sinneth shall die” because the spirit is eternal. It is either in a state of eternal life or it is in a state of eternal spiritual death but it is eternal because it is created in the image of God.
The human understanding of death is different than God’s understanding of death. We understand death as the separation of a human consciousness from the human body. There are plenty of theories about what comes next, but no debate about the human definition of death.
To God, the body is nothing more than a life support system for the soul and a storage facility for the spirit. To God, who understands the spirit is immortal, death is the eternal separation of the human spirit from the Creator.
Because the unregenerate spirit cannot enter Heaven but it also cannot cease to exist, it has to go somewhere when it is separated from the human body. When the soul separates from the human body, the spirit separates with it. There is no such thing in Scripture as ‘soul-sleep’.
Jesus turned to the thief being crucified with Him and said, “Verily I say unto thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:8)
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:22-23)
The soul and spirit of Lazarus and the rich man were both conscious immediately after death. Their souls remained united with their eternal spirits. The rich man recalled his life on earth, his sins, his five brothers and his father. His soul was very much aware of his surroundings.
“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
Lazarus, you’ll recall, was “covered with sores” — he was most likely a leper. It gives some inkling of the reality of the flame that he would beg for a drop of water for his tongue, even from the finger of Lazarus.
This is the reason for the existence of the Omega Letter. To see souls saved. To help provide you with the kind of information that is useful to that end.
How many times have you heard someone ask, “What’s this world coming to?” That is our cue to tell them:
Peter writes: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15) The Omega Letter’s mission is to help you be as ready as possible for that moment.
We’ve been publishing for eight years and I’ve always been somewhat baffled that we’ve stayed as low-profile as we have. I say that because the Omega Letter has important friends and is circulated in some important places. I was praying about it a few weeks back and the Lord showed me why.
The Omega Letter’s mission is too important. Please understand that I’m not blowing the OL’s horn. It is the message that counts. The messenger is necessary to carry the Message, but messengers are a dime a dozen. It is the Message that is priceless.
Most Christian websites take the shotgun approach to spreading the Message by just tossing it out there on the front page, hoping that somebody will read it, and, having read it, will pray and get saved. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are lots of them out there. Another isn’t really necessary.
The Omega Letter’s mission isn’t to be the one to harvest the crop, but rather to equip the sowers with enough good seed. We are members of an army of one-on-one evangelists with a burden for lost souls.
Souls that will either confess Jesus in this life and go on to life eternal, or they will confess Him in the afterlife before joining the rich man in death eternal, conscious, but forever separated from God and consigned to the only place left — the place God prepared for the devil and the fallen angels.
Where somebody spends eternity may depend on how clearly we frame our answers to questions about the hope that is in us. That is why the Omega Letter exists.
It is why we are like a family. Men in combat become closer than friends. The bond that develops was best described in the title of the story of Easy Company in WWII — “Band of Brothers”.
(Sorry for all the male sexism — “Band of Sisters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) Still, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, genuine ‘soul brothers’ who have enlisted for the duration.
Two weeks from next Saturday many of our number will gather together for a little R&R to meet and greet and encourage each other and spend a few days together. We’ve members coming from all over the United States and Canada and even a few from abroad.
We’re anticipating an amazing time of fellowship and friendship and fun, along with discussions on strategy and tactics useful to the mission. We’ll be gathering in Niagara about seven miles west of Buffalo NY on the Canadian side of the river.
As of June 1st, the Department of Homeland Security began demanding passports for US citizens returning to the US. I was wondering what DHS would do to an American without his passport.
After all, you can’t deport an American to another country because his papers aren’t in order. At least, not yet.
There was a big write-up in the Buffalo News on Sunday that answered the question for me. The story was about how the new rules have devastated the local economies on both sides of the border. According to the paper, however, US citizens without passports are NOT being denied entry back into the US.
If they don’t have a passport but have photo ID and a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, they are given a written ‘warning’ and admitted anyway.
I’m not advising anyone to take the gamble, but at the same time, it doesn’t yet appear that failure to have your papers in order has yet be elevated to the status of a criminal offense. Yet.