Your IMMORTAL Soul?
Vol: 27 Issue: 13 Thursday, October 13, 2016
I recently was informed by email that I am a false teacher and that man does NOT have an immortal soul for, as my critic points out, the phrase, immortal soul does not appear anywhere in the Bible.
Is that the criteria? That the Bible use the same terminology as we?
I have critics that castigate me for teaching the doctrine of the Rapture on the grounds that the word rapture is not found anywhere in the Bible, either.
(But again, if that is the criteria, then what do we do with the fact that the word Bible is not found anywhere in the Bible?)
I ran a Google search on the keywords “eternal soul and the Bible” and, of the first ten hits on the lead page, nine of them were from sources denying the existence of an immortal soul.
What about the tenth?
It was from a place called gotquestions.org which began with the sentence, “Without question, the human soul is immortal.”
The site presented its case favoring an immortal soul using Old Testament Scriptures to make the point.
Evidently, Google doesn’t like that answer. Unique to this hit among the rest, was Google’s offer to hit a link saying “Block all http://www.gotquestions.org results.”
(The same link often appears with Omega Letter results. One wonders about that. Apparently, that handy little tool is of use for searchers who only want to find the answers they prefer. It gives rise to the question, “if you don’t want to know, why bother with the search?” But I digress. . . )
Before moving on, let’s first nail down our working definitions, since they tend to be incorrectly used interchangeably.
First, what do we mean by “the soul?” Your “soul” consists of your mind, will and emotions. Your soul is the definition of your personhood — it is that part of you that makes you “you”.
Man is created in the image of God so it makes sense that man, like God, is a triune being. God exists in triune form. “Man” is the union of spirit, body and soul. When the spirit departs the body, so too, does the soul.
One’s soul is part of, and yet separate from, your spirit, which is indeed immortal, since it is the part that is created in the image of God.
But your spirit comes into existence at the moment of your creation in the womb whereas your “soul” develops along with your consciousness. An aborted baby arrives in heaven with a fully developed spirit but an undeveloped, or under-developed “soul”.
Your spirit is created in God’s image and therefore, on its own, it is not capable of sin. This truth was articulated by the Apostle Paul when he wrote;
“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:9)
The word translated “soul” in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word nepheshwhich means, simply enough, “a living being”.
Is that enough to argue against the existence of an immortal soul? I don’t think so, because my dog Droopy has a soul. I’ve watched her when she dreams. I’ve seen her attempt to reason out a way to retrieve her ball from under the couch.
So my little dog Droopy has a mind.
I’ve witnessed her internal struggle when I’ve called her to heel and she ignores me until she knows she has reached the limits of my patience. If she wants to linger over a favorite smell while I am trying to move her along on a walk, it becomes a battle of wills.
So my little dog Droopy has a will.
Finally, my little dog Droopy is an absolute bundle of emotions, none of which she has the ability to conceal. When she is overjoyed, it overflows into the room. When she is sad, well, we named her “Droopy” for a reason.
So my little dog Droopy has emotions.
So my little dog Droopy has a soul — but she does not have a spirit. She has a soul, but absent the image of God, she does not have an immortal soul. My little dog Droopy is not created in the image of God.
My spirit is the vehicle upon which my soul is overlaid, so to speak. Since my spirit is immortal and my soul is inextricably linked to my spirit, it follows that my soul is also immortal, hence the expression of one’s eternal existence as one’s “immortal soul.”
The argument that man does not have an immortal soul based on the fact the Bible does not specifically say “man has an immortal soul” does not seem particularly convincing.
And for every Scripture presented as evidence that the soul is not immortal, there is another Scripture that says the opposite. For example, one site argued against the immortality of the soul based on Genesis 2:17:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
But Genesis also says that Adam lived for another 930 years! Adam’s “soul” did not die on the day of his transgression, — his spirit did.
But wait! Didn’t I just say that it is the spirit that is in God’s image, and therefore immortal?
Again, Adam’s mind, will and emotions — the part that made Adam uniquely Adam did not die for 930 years. But Adam’s spirit was created in the image of God.
What does God’s image look like?
“No man hath seen God at any time . . .” (John 1:18)
“No man hath seen God at any time. . .” (1 John 4:12)
When talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus tells her that “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24)
So what “died” with Adam’s sin? It wasn’t his soul. Death occurs when the soul leaves the body. And it wasn’t his spirit, since Adam’s spirit was created in the image of God.
What “died” was Adam’s fellowship with God.
In the sense that a body absent the soul is dead, one’s spirit, absent fellowship with the Father, is dead. Clarence Larkin famously illustrated the triune nature of man using this diagram. He presented three concentric rings, with the carnal (body) on the outside, the soul in the middle and the spirit at the core.
When the body dies, the soul’s physical inputs are cut off and the soul turns to the spirit for input. A soul cut off from the Father receives inputs, not from his spirit’s existence with the Father in Heaven, but from his spirit’s existence apart from the Father in Hell.
But to me, the most profound evidence of man’s immortal soul came from something I learned following a recent OL in which I was bemoaning the aches and pains of the aging process.
I was chatting via email with a long-time and much-loved OL member and I shared with her that fact that in my mind, I’m as young as I ever was.
I mentioned that Gayle’s mom, who is ninety, is regularly surprised by some new limitation imposed by age. In her mind, she is still a young woman trapped in a ninety-year old body.
It is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed by the elderly all my life, but one I’ve only recently come to understand. Our bodies age and we recognize that we are old, but we don’t feel old ‘inside’.
She told me that although she just turned 83, she still feels as young as ever and that she took that issue to the Lord in prayer. What the Lord revealed to her and she shared with me floored me. It was so simple I don’t know why I didn’t see it, and so profound that it rocked my world.
“Of course you don’t feel old in your spirit. Your spirit was created to last forever – it does not age.”