REMEMBER: This is a Bible STUDY course. It is not just something for you to read quickly. What we have written is only the OUTLINE to help you to STUDY your BIBLE. The one textbook of this course is YOUR BIBLE! Always have your Bible open before you when you sit down to STUDY with this course.
Bible Study Course Lesson 14
What is Man?
Death is a stark reality for every human. Some die by war, others by starvation, still others by old age. Everyone must face it.
What happens after death? Is there life beyond the grave? This lesson answers these and many other vital questions about man.
WHAT IS man?" asked the psalmist David in Psalm 8:4. Is man an immortal soul in a material body? Is death the separation of body and soul? What really happens to a man at death?
And what about the atheist who believes that there is no HOPE OF LIFE AFTER DEATH?
These questions have puzzled -- yes, frightened -- millions since the beginning of time! How can we PROVE -- how can we really be SURE -- what happens to a human being at death?
Death a Reality
Death is a reality! -- a TERRIBLE reality for many religious people. Death is often pictured as the inescapable FINAL PLUNGE into the unknown -- into the "next world" with its heaven, its hell or its purgatory.
But to the average man-on-the-street, death is a vague, far-off, UNREAL something that happens to someone else -- a hazy, distant possibility which he feels he can worry about LATER.
Though many today like to shove it from their minds, like to escape having to think about it, death is REAL! It is the inevitable consequence of being ALIVE. Every living organism follows the pattern of birth, growth, senility and death. Death befalls thousands every hour -- through sickness, accidents, starvation, murder and war.
Isn't it about time we examined what is called life and death? Isn't it about time we finally learned WHAT MAN IS? -- and what hope there is of life after death?
No Immortal Soul!
All the ancient pagan philosophers and every heathen tribe and nation from antiquity have believed that man is essentially a spiritual being -- some kind of vague immortal spiritual soul housed in a body of flesh -- that the human body is merely the house we dwell in, or the cloak put around us temporarily -- that the REAL man is not the body, but an invisible, immaterial, immortal soul that thinks, that hears, that sees and that will live on consciously forever.
At death, according to the speculation of the ancient pagan philosophers, the SOUL -- the real you -- leaves the body and journeys to a heaven, to a purgatory or to a hell. The BODY, they observed, went to the grave.
A few philosophers speculated that the souls of the departed re-enter other kinds of bodies after death and live on earth again in the form of monkeys, cattle, serpents, or perhaps as human beings. This doctrine is called "transmigration of souls."
But what is the AUTHORITY for these beliefs? Do these doctrines come from the BIBLE?
The answer is: there is NO authority for these speculations of the pagans!
What the Bible does reveal is exactly OPPOSITE to what most people have blindly assumed!
Consider this candid admission of the "Jewish Encyclopedia": "The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body" -- after death -- "is a matter of philosophical or theological SPECULATION rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly NOWHERE TAUGHT IN HOLY SCRIPTURE" (from article, "Immortality of the Soul").
Nowhere does the Bible say God created an "immortal soul" in man!
Then where DID the Jews, Catholics and Protestants acquire their present belief about the immortality of the soul?
Inherited from PAGANISM
Here are the astounding words from this same article explaining where the doctrine of the immortality of the soul DID originate: "The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principle exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended."
It came from the PAGAN GREEK PHILOSOPHERS who acquired it from Egypt and Babylon -- NOT FROM THE BIBLE!
Let us trace how the speculations of the pagan world regarding the soul's supposed immortality surreptitiously crept into the professing Christian church.
The speculations about the soul, remember, entered the western world FROM EGYPT. Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, who lived in the fifth century before Jesus, admitted: "The Egyptians were also the first that asserted that the soul of man is immortal .... This opinion, some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their own" ("Euterpe", chapter 123).
The Greeks adopted this doctrine from the pagan Egyptians, not from the Bible!
It was Socrates, the Greek philosopher and pervert, who traveled to Egypt and consulted the Egyptians on this very teaching. After his return to Greece, he imparted the error to Plato, his most famous pupil. Now compare the present-day doctrine of the churches with what Plato wrote in his book, "The Phaedo". Plato wrote: "The soul whose inseparable attribute is life will never admit of life's opposite, death. Thus the soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible.... Do we believe there is such a thing as death? To be sure. And is this anything but the separation of the soul and body? And being dead is the attainment of this separation, when the soul exists in herself and separate from the body, and the body is parted from the soul. That is death.... Death is merely the separation of soul and body."
Sounds like the ordinary church catechism, doesn't it? Of course! The DOCTRINE was formulated by Plato! -- not the apostle Paul!
To Plato, the student and intimate acquaintance of Socrates, death did not really mean death! Rather, he conceived it to be the separation of the "soul" from the body.
You, too, were probably taught to assume this same doctrine. You were probably told it came straight from the Bible -- but it did not! It came out of pagan speculation!
After Plato came Aristotle who perpetuated the theory. Then the Roman poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.) popularized it throughout the Roman world.
Paganism Falsely Labeled "Christian"
The introduction of this pagan superstition into the churches was a gradual process lasting centuries. As the great conspiracy spread, the early Catholic "fathers" became divided on this subject. As late as 160 A.D., Justin, the philosopher-turned-professing-Christian, wrote: "But our Jesus Christ, being crucified, and dead, and having ascended to heaven, reigned; and by those things which were published in His name among all nations by the apostles, there is joy offered to those who EXPECT the immortality promised by Him" ("Ante-Nicene Fathers", Vol. I, p. 176). The EARLY Catholics KNEW they DID NOT HAVE immortality within themselves! It was something they expected to receive.
But Catholic doctrine gradually changed. Here is what John Nelson Darby, leader among the "Plymouth Brethren" Church later confesses: "I cannot show from Scripture that man is naturally immortal. I can only deduce it. The idea of the immortality of the soul has no source in the gospel; it comes, on the contrary, from the Platonists, and it is just when the second coming of Christ was denied in the Church, or at least began to be lost sight of, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came in to replace that of the resurrection. This was about the time of Origen" (from "Lectures", Vol. IV).
And who was Origen? A Catholic teacher in Alexandria, Egypt! He joined the speculations of Plato with certain Bible doctrines and called his philosophy NEO-PLATONISM. Here is what Origen wrote around 200 A.D.: "Souls are immortal, as God Himself is eternal and immortal"! He professed to be a true "Platonist, who believed in the immortality of the soul" ("Ante-Nicene Fathers", Vol. IV, pp. 314, 402).
Notice that Origen does not claim to be Christian in his belief, but a Platonist!
Another influential teacher at the close of the second century was Tertullian of Phoenician North Africa. Here is what this professing Christian descendant of Baal-worshiping Phoenician ancestors wrote: "For some things are known, even by nature: the immortality of the soul, for instance, is held by many .... I may use, therefore the opinion of Plato, when he declares: 'EVERY SOUL IS IMMORTAL'" ("Ante-Nicene Fathers", Vol. III, p. 547).
NO BIBLE QUOTATION AS PROOF of an immortal soul -- only the opinion of Plato! IMAGINE PLATO, THE PAGAN PHILOSOPHER, SUPERSEDING THE TEACHING OF CHRIST the Creator! Yet that is exactly what happened!
But a few Catholic writers and teachers as late as the time of Constantine condemned the change in doctrine from Christ to Plato. Here is the clear testimony of Arnobius against those who were being "carried away with an extravagant opinion of themselves that souls are immortal .... Will you lay aside your habitual arrogance, O men, who claim God as your Father, and maintain that you are immortal just as He is?" (Vol. LV, p. 440).
After the time of Emperor Constantine -- who forced the Catholic Church on the Roman Empire -- Augustine of North Africa, another writer of Phoenician extraction, "sanctified" the doctrine of the immortality of the soul in his book, "The City of God". Along came other writers -- all under the influence of Plato, Aristotle and Virgil -- who dominated the philosophy of Western "Christian" theology during the early Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas (about 1225-1274), Italian scholastic teacher and theologian, stamped the doctrine of the immortality of the soul permanently on the Catholic Church. Fifty years later, Durante Alighieri, popularly known as Dante, wrote the immensely famous poem, "The Divine Comedy", in which he pictured for the common people the PAGAN CONCEPT OF HELL, PURGATORY and PARADISE -- which FALSE DOCTRINES have been widely believed since that time.
False Idea Imposed by Roman Church
Just before the Protestant Reformation broke out in Europe, the Catholic Church imposed the death penalty on all who refused to believe the pagan doctrine of the soul's immortality. At the Lateran Council, held in 1513, this decree was issued:
"Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the SACRED COUNCIL, DO CONDEMN AND REPROBATE ALL THOSE WHO ASSERT THAT THE INTELLECTUAL SOUL IS MORTAL, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is ... immortal; ... and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and PUNISHED AS HERETICS."
Little wonder that the Protestant reformers found the people unwilling to change their doctrines. The reformers quickly took the popular road, rejected the faith once delivered for all time to the saints, and began to follow tradition -- Catholic tradition which has its roots in pagan philosophy and doctrines of demons!
And THAT IS WHY MOST OF YOU were reared to BELIEVE in the IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL!
Now we give you the startling Catholic admission about the doctrine of the immortality of the soul: "It enshrines the principles of ancient SPECULATION" ("The Catholic Encyclopedia", from article "Soul," p. 157).
Notice! The belief that man is essentially a spiritual soul housed in a material body is derived from ANCIENT PAGAN SPECULATION!
The apostle Paul wrote about this very kind of speculation: "BEWARE lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments" -- or fundamental concepts -- "of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
The BIBLE CONDEMNS the philosophic SPECULATIONS of the pagans! -- AND THAT INCLUDES THEIR DOCTRINE THAT MAN IS AN IMMORTAL SOUL IN A MATERIAL HOUSE OF FLESH!
The Original Protestant View
Even the ORIGINAL leaders of the Protestant Reformation recognized that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul did not come from the Bible. Martin Luther declared that it was the Pope, not the Bible, who taught that "the soul is immortal" ("Defense", proposition section 27).
The Catholic Cardinal Du Perron charged specifically that "Luther held that the soul died with the body, and that God would hereafter raise both the one and the other" ("Historical View", p. 344).
How different were Luther's first teachings from the Protestant doctrine today. Here are Luther's early views as expressed about the year 1522:
"It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions, indeed, the DEAD SLEEP IN UTTER INSENSIBILITY TILL THE DAY OF JUDGMENT ... On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep ... in the same way that the living pass in profound slumber the interval between their downlying at night and their uprising in the morning?" (From "Michelet's Life of Luther", Bohn's edition, p. 133.)
Luther's original teachings have never ceased to embarrass Protestant theologians who have since adopted the teachings of ancient PAGAN SPECULATION!
William Tyndale, the printer of the first New Testament in English, and one of the reformers, wrote: "In putting departed souls in heaven, hell, or purgatory you destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection .... The true faith putteth the resurrection; the HEATHEN philosophers, denying that, did put that souls did ever live. And the Pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of the philosophers together -- things so contrary that they cannot agree .... And because the fleshly minded Pope consenteth to heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to establish it. If the soul be in heaven, tell me what cause is there for the resurrection?"
Even "Lange's Commentary" admits: "The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the name, are alike unknown to the entire Bible" (Olshausen's comment on I Cor. 15:19, 20).
Then why do most Protestants today believe the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? Because they, too, have been deceived by the speculations of the ancient pagan philosophers! The Bible is not the source of the religion of Protestants any more than of Catholics or Jews! Christianity today is little more than the name of Christ attached to the traditions and customs and beliefs of the ancient PAGANS!
Now is high time you opened your own Bible to see what the Word of God has to say ABOUT THE SOUL -- about what man really is!
God Reveals What Man Really Is!
Only one man has ever returned from the other side of the dead and left an unchallengeable record of what the other side of death is like. That man is Jesus Christ! Others may have momentarily died on an operating table, or even been resurrected from the dead -- but only Jesus Christ has left full and complete testimony of what death is and of what lies beyond.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the Spokesman of God the Supreme Creator. Unless He had revealed His knowledge to us, we would have had no possible way to find out what man is, what death is, and what lies beyond! And unless you accept His revelation of that knowledge, you have NO basis whatsoever for any knowledge or belief as to what you really are!
No other book, besides the Bible, claims to be the recorded revealed Word of the very Creator. Only the Bible has the complete and INFALLIBLE record of Jesus Christ's testimony about life and death.
Here are Christ's own words: "I am He that liveth, AND WAS DEAD" -- Christ, then, has returned from the dead, come back to life to REVEAL what happened ON THE OTHER SIDE OF DEATH. "I am alive for evermore," He continues, "and have the keys of hell [Greek "hades" -- the grave] and of death" (Revelation 1:18).
Christ has the keys of the grave and of death. There is nothing that can be hid from Him, or kept back from His almighty power! He has ALL knowledge; SCIENCE can only reveal PART of the truth Christ knows. Yet science can contribute something. What do experiments lead scientists to believe?
SCIENCE DEALS ONLY WITH MATERIAL SUBSTANCE -- matter, force, energy. Matter is either inorganic or organic -- dead or living. Science knows of no life apart from matter, because science is limited entirely to the material world that can be weighed and measured -- what can be perceived by the five senses. All that a man can know NATURALLY IS MATERIAL.
NO SCIENTIFIC AUTHORITY BELIEVES THAT LIFE IN PLANTS OR ANIMALS IS A SEPARATE ENTITY WHICH MAY EXIST APART FROM, OR OUTSIDE OF THAT PLANT OR ANIMAL. Not even the philosophers of the western world believe that.
Do YOU believe that the life of a plant is some mysterious something that existed prior to the plant, then came into the matter that composed the plant and gave it life and made it grow? -- and then at "death" leaves the plant and continues to live elsewhere possibly in another plant?
Do YOU think there is some mysterious source of life in the animals that lives apart from the decayed carcass of an animal after death?
Do YOU believe that man must necessarily have a different source of life than plants or animals? No. And neither does science.
Let's consider the undeniable evidence of science about what life is.
All living matter, in its simplest form, is protoplasm. So far as is known, every living material thing is composed of protoplasm, and apart from protoplasm -- SEPARATE FROM protoplasm (of which HUMAN flesh consists also!) -- there is no material life manifested in either plants or animals. The point is that the physical LIFE of man is manifested ONLY in protoplasm, which is a viscous, translucent substance composing the nucleus of cells of both plants and animals, and also man.
The next important contribution of science to the study of what man is, is the LAW OF BIOGENESIS. This is the scientific demonstration that all living substance, or matter, arises only from other substance already living. We discussed this in Lesson 11, page 6 of this Course. Life can come only from life. When life ceases, the plant or animal or man becomes dead matter -- inorganic matter.
Nothing is more certainly proved by science than the utter impossibility of the reappearance of life whether of plant, animal or man -- in a resurrection through any powers inherent within matter. That is one of the reasons why SCIENCE ASSUMES there COULD BE NO RESURRECTION. Science IS ABLE TO OBSERVE ONLY WHAT IS MATERIAL. All living material is mortal matter -- matter with a TEMPORARY EXISTENCE. Flesh is matter, and man is flesh!
What about the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? What has science to say about it? NOTHING! SCIENCE HAS NEVER FOUND ANY IMMORTAL SOUL WITHIN MAN because there is no way for SCIENCE to observe any such thing. There is no evidence in the entire realm of scientific investigation of any such thing as an immortal soul that leaves the body at death, and that departs with all the store of knowledge that has been accumulated in the lifetime of the individual. All that science has proved is that individuals who have died on an operating table, and who have been revived after a few minutes through heart massage after quickly opening the chest, have known nothing about the intervening time! THEY HAVE "GONE" NOWHERE! They merely reawaken on the operating table. If too many minutes have elapsed, the deterioration of the brain is so rapid that the person is thereafter deprived of some of his thinking faculties, and of his store of previous knowledge. But certainly here is no evidence of any thinking soul being able to exist apart from the body!
SCIENCE can reveal no more than this. HUMAN PHILOSOPHY cannot reveal even this much, because philosophy has no way to prove any of its speculations apart from the tools of science.
ONLY THE BIBLE -- the Revelation of Jesus Christ -- CAN REVEAL WHAT SCIENCE IS UNABLE TO KNOW! Here is what the Bible reveals about WHAT MAN REALLY IS!
1. Of what is man composed, according to Jesus Christ? John 3:6, first part. Is man born of the flesh in this life? Then is he FLESH? Since man is born of fleshly parents, he is NOT composed of SPIRIT.
COMMENT: Jesus here plainly points out that if we are born of flesh, we CANNOT be composed of spirit. The natural man, then, is NOT composed of an IMMORTAL SPIRITUAL SOUL in a body of mortal flesh. He is composed ENTIRELY of mortal flesh -- of protoplasm: and when that flesh or protoplasm dies, the MAN IS DEAD -- ALL OF HIM! Science proves that!
2. Was Jesus Christ born of the flesh? Romans 1:3. Then Christ was composed of flesh, wasn't He? Compare this with Colossians 1:22. Jesus certainly knew what flesh was -- because he was composed of flesh!
3. Was Paul composed of flesh? Romans 7:18. Was Paul a soul CLOTHED in a body of flesh? -- or did Paul speak of himself as his flesh? Then is it not true the real Paul, the personality, was flesh and not an immortal spirit?
4. Is the mind of the natural man also fleshly minded? Colossians 2:18, last part.
How Man Was Created
God created the first man. God tells us how He did it so we could know what we are. The one who did the work of creation was Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:16.) Here is how He says He created man:
1. Out of what did God form man? Genesis 2:7. Notice that it was the man -- NOT MERELY THE BODY -- that was formed! Does it say that MAN was formed out of dust or out of SPIRIT?
2. Was merely the BODY composed of dust -- OR was THE MAN composed of dust? Genesis 3:19, last part. Whom does God address in this verse -- the body, or the man? Then it is the man, not merely the body, who is composed of dust, isn't it?
3. What was to happen to man? Gen. 3:19, last part. Who was to return to dust, the body or THE MAN? Does God say "thy body" shall return to dust, or "THOU" -- THE CONSCIOUS MAN -- shall return to dust -- which?
4. After God had formed the lifeless man and made every cell in his body, what did God do to make the man ALIVE? Genesis 2:7, middle part of verse. Did God breathe something into man's nostrils? What was it that He BREATHED INTO the man?
COMMENT: God breathed into the man "the breath of life" -- the AIR or WIND that gave the man life! It does NOT say the man had an immortal soul because God breathed one into the man! It was breath -- the same breath we breathe today -- that imparted life to the first man. God blew air or wind into the man's lungs through the nostrils, and the man lived!
5. Is the same breath of life passing through the nostrils of the animals and fowl and rodents? Genesis 7:21-22. Then the source of LIFE of man, of animals and of birds is the SAME breath of LIFE, isn't it? Since there is no immortal soul imparting life to the animals and to the fowl of the air, therefore, there is no immortal soul imparting life to man, is there?
6. What happens if living flesh is deprived of the breath of life? Psalm 104:29, last part. Do they die? Do THEY -- or only their bodies -- return to the dust? Same verse.
7. What does Psalm 146:4 reveal about the life of man? What is it that returns to the earth when the breath leaves? Is it only the body -- or is it the man -- "he"? ALL of him? What happens to man's thoughts when death overtakes man? Same verse, last part. Do his thoughts continue to exist in an immortal soul -- or do his thoughts PERISH? Does PERISH mean to exist forever, or to CEASE to exist? (Look up the meaning in your dictionary.)
Man IS a Mortal Soul
1. When God had breathed -- blown -- air or breath into the man's nostrils, what did the man Adam become? Genesis 2:7, last part.
COMMENT: The original Hebrew word here translated "soul" is "nephesh". "Young's Concordance" defines it as a "breathing creature." "Strong's Concordance" also defines it as a "breathing creature, i.e. animal." In Genesis 1:21, 24; 2:19; 9:10, 12, 15, 16 and Leviticus 11:46 the same word "nephesh" IS translated "creature" when referring to animals. And so man is a creature; MAN IS A SOUL. ANIMALS ARE creatures or SOULS, too! Notice the same word "nephesh" IS translated as "dead body" or "the dead" in Lev. 19:28; 21:1; 22:4; Num. 5:2; 6:11 and 9:6, 7, 10. THE SOUL, THEN, IS ANIMAL LIFE, SUBJECT TO DECAY AND DEATH. IT IS NOT IMMORTAL.
The SOUL IS COMPOSED OF THE DUST of the ground -- it is material, not spiritual. It is matter. When the man BREATHES, he is a LIVING soul. When man ceases to breathe, he becomes a non-living or dead soul. That's what your Bible reveals!
2. Can the soul die? Ezekiel 18:4 and 20. If the soul were immortal, it could not die, could it? Then the soul is plainly MORTAL, isn't it? Job 4:17.
COMMENT: Since the soul is mortal, and man is a soul, then man is MORTAL -- subject to DEATH. That is why the Scripture calls a human being "MORTAL MAN."
3. Was Adam subject to death? Genesis 2:17, last part. Was it the body only that would die, or was it the conscious man -- Adam -- "thou" -- that would die?
4. Does the same thing happen to men that happens to beasts? Eccl. 3:19. What one thing befalls both man and beast alike? Same verse. Why? -- because they all have the same TEMPORARY source of life, the breath of air? Do men and animals all breathe air from the same source? When it comes to physical life, man has no preeminence above a beast, does he?
5. Do all go to the same place at death? Eccl. 3:20. Does this include ALL -- men and animals alike? When an animal dies, it is dead; SO DIES MAN also. When man dies, he is completely dead, too.
6. What is it that all men and animals return to? Same verse. Do they ALL return to dust? Does this verse say that only the body returns to dust? Was it only the body, or was it the ENTIRE CONSCIOUS MAN that was originally made of dust? Gen. 3:19. Since the man, and not merely the body, is composed of dust, then it is the man who dies and returns to dust, isn't it? Eccl. 3:19-20. Is this passage a part of Scripture? How much of Scripture is given by inspiration? II Timothy 3:16. Then this passage in Ecclesiastes IS INSPIRED, isn't it?
COMMENT: Some contend that this passage in Ecclesiastes is merely what SOLOMON thought, but that it is not the truth. The Bible plainly proves this idea false.
7. Now what does Ecclesiastes 3:21 ask? Does this verse make a positive statement, or does it rather ask a question?
COMMENT: Notice that in this place the Bible refers to "spirit" as common to both man and beast. This word "spirit" comes from the Hebrew word "ruach" and is translated 28 times as "breath": for example, in Genesis 6:17; 7:15, 22; Lamentations 4:20. The same word is translated 90 times as "wind" in the King James Version. It is the "breath" which is common to both men and animals. Notice that regarding this breath both men and animals die the same death.
8. Does Solomon answer the question he asked in Eccl. 3:21? Turn to Eccl. 12:7 for the answer. Does this Scripture plainly say that the conscious man -- composed of dust -- shall return to the earth again? And what happens to the spirit -- or breath -- that was breathed into the man? Does it return to God who gave it? When did God give it originally to the first man? Gen. 2:7.
COMMENT: While a man is still alive, the Bible speaks of his breath as being in the hand of God -- "In whose hand is the soul ["nephesh", material, physical life] of every living thing, and the BREATH of all mankind" (Job 12:10). In other words, when a man dies, whether he be wicked or righteous, he gives up his BREATH to God again.
9. Is man like the beasts that PERISH? Psalm 49:12.
What Is the LIFE of Man?
MAN IS A living, BREATHING mortal creature -- a NEPHESH, or living soul, in whose nostrils is air, sometimes mistranslated "spirit." Let us understand the function of the breath of air that goes into your lungs. The blood flows through the wall of the lungs on the way back to the heart, as it is pumped through the veins and arteries of the body. The breath of air, upon contact with the surface of the lungs, gives up oxygen. This oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream, and is quickly burned up in creating the energy needed to keep up body heat and other functions of the internal organs and muscles. The LIFE OF MAN IS IN THE BLOOD, and the blood needs the breath of life to keep the body active and alive.
1. WHERE DOES THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING CREATURES RESIDE? Genesis 9:4. Is the life of man and animals found in the BLOODSTREAM? -- or in an immortal soul?
2. Do we find the same definition of life in Leviticus 17:11 and 14?
3. Does Deut. 12:23 corroborate this? COMMENT: In these verses, the Hebrew word NEPHESH is translated "life." The word NEPHESH or soul, then, can mean either the FLESHLY PART of man or the LIFEBLOOD of man.
4. Did Christ make His soul an offering for sin? Isaiah 53:10. How did He accomplish this? Verse 12.
COMMENT: Christ gave Himself for our sins (I Cor. 15:3) -- offered up His soul or body to be crucified, and allowed His lifeblood or soul to be poured out! (Be sure to request your copy of the FREE article, "Did Christ Die of a Broken Heart?")
5. When a person dies -- becomes lifeless -- what happens to him? Ecclesiastes 9:5. How much do the dead know?
COMMENT: Since the dead are not conscious of anything, then man is NOT born with an immortal soul which would be aware of things happening around it after man's fleshly body dies.
6. Are those who have died able to praise God? Psalm 115:17. Does this sound like what most of you have been taught in the churches? Do the churches really believe and teach the Bible?
7. Is there any remembrance of God in death? Psalm 6:5. COMMENT: DEATH is the OPPOSITE OF LIFE. Death is the CESSATION OF LIFE.
Is Man Merely an Animal?
1. Since both men and animals maintain their mortal existence by the very same breath -- and since both men and animals die the same death -- is man MERELY AN ANIMAL? Isn't man created in the image of God? Gen. 1:26-27. Is man to rule over all other creatures? Verse 26.
2. Were animals created in God's image or weren't they created each after its own kind? Gen. 1:21, 24, 25.
3. What is it that makes man different from the animals -- the lower creatures of the earth that God created? Was man to be made in the image and likeness of God? Did God, then, create a mortal being -- a man -- after His own kind -- the God kind? Gen. 1:26-27.
COMMENT: The Hebrew words of Gen. 1:26-27 reveal God's great plan and ultimate purpose for mankind! When God molded Adam of the dust, Adam was shaped in the "likeness" -- the outward form and shape -- of God Himself! God didn't form any of the other creatures He had created to be a clay replica of Himself. This unique form and shape was SPECIALLY GIVEN TO MAN ALONE!
Notice what else God gave man at creation! "God said, Let us make man in OUR IMAGE ... " The Hebrew words here indicate more than merely the outward form and shape of God -- His likeness -- FAR MORE! The image of God refers to His MIND AND CHARACTER! No animal was ever given the gift of mind power! It is this very special attribute of mind and character that separates men from animals!
Man IS NOT A MERE ANIMAL! Animals have only the brain -- fantastically intricate brain with a degree of memory and instinct -- which God created for each kind of animal. BUT ANIMALS DO NOT HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF MIND AND CHARACTER GOD CREATED ONLY FOR MAN.
Notice the great difference. Animals have brains as well as humans. Yet animals DO NOT HAVE TRUE REASONING, THINKING MINDS!
Animals follow habit patterns in their feeding, nesting, migration, and reproduction -- by INSTINCT. This instinct which God created in their brains is set like a clock to cause them to react INVOLUNTARILY.
For example, thousands of birds flock south as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere each year without KNOWING WHY, without planning ahead an itinerary of stops. Yet at a given signal -- like the alarm of a clock -- they leave their summer feeding grounds in the North and travel thousands of miles south. Scientists don't fully understand WHY -- they can merely observe the operation of this animal instinct which God created. Each species of bird -- each kind God created -- has different instinctive patterns, builds different nests, feeds on different foods, and migrates in different ways at different times to different places. None of these actions are planned by animals however; they are merely the reaction Almighty God built into the instinct of each creature at creation.
But MAN is DIFFERENT! Man is able to see -- to perceive and understand -- various ways to do any one thing. Man can reason from memorized facts and knowledge, draw conclusions, make decisions, will to act according to a thought-out plan.
Each man may build a different house, eat different foods -- live an entirely different way of life from every other. If a man wants to change his way of life HE CAN! Man is not subject to instinct, governed by a set of pre-determined natural principles, as are animals.
Man can CHOOSE -- HE HAS FREE MORAL AGENCY! He can devise codes of morals and exercise self-discipline. Man can originate ideas and evaluate scientific knowledge because he has a MIND which is made in the "image" of God's own mind! Man can devise, plan, and bring his plan to fruition -- because he has some of the same creative powers God Himself has! BUT MAN'S POWERS ARE LIMITED NOW!
The attributes of mind and character make man God's unique physical creation. God has shared some of His own qualities -- the image of His mind -- with man -- and expects man to develop the IMAGE of GOD'S PERFECT HOLY CHARACTER.
That is the wonderful purpose God is working out here below! God gave man the ability to choose right from wrong -- and commands man to choose RIGHT! By constantly choosing God's ways -- making the right decisions God Himself would make man can develop the very character image of Almighty God!
This is what man was designed to become at creation. This is the wonderful reason why man was made different from animals, and given -- IN A LIMITED WAY -- some of the very attributes of God!
God's plan is to make of man -- now only a CLAY model of the God kind -- partakers of God's Own Divine Nature! God is reproducing himself IN MAN -- and man will someday be elevated to the God KIND!
To understand more of God's wonderful purpose for mankind, you should visit the Church of God Faithful Flock website immediately and view the FREE on-line booklet, "Why Were You Born?" The purpose for human life is the heart and core of Christ's Gospel. No wonder those who couldn't understand His message accused Him of BLASPHEMY!
The Spirit in Man
1. Since man has no immortal soul within him which lives on apart from his body after his death -- man IS a soul -- does the Bible speak elsewhere of A SPIRIT IN MAN? I Cor. 2:9-14. Notice especially verse 11.
2. Is this spirit the man himself -- or is it something that is in the man? Verse 11.
3. Does God form this spirit WITHIN each human being? Zech. 12:1.
COMMENT: This spirit is NOT THE MAN -- it is something that is IN the man. Connected with the physical brain (matter) of the man, it forms human MIND. It merely imparts man's unique power of intellect and personality.
Satan does not represent this spirit as merely something that is IN the MAN. Satan palmed it off as an immortal soul. Satan led people to believe this spirit IS the man, not something IN the man. Satan then led men to believe the BODY is merely the HOUSE in which the MAN (falsely represented as an immortal soul) dwells.
The spirit that is IN a man has no consciousness OF ITSELF. It cannot KNOW, apart from the physical brain. It cannot SEE, of itself. Coupled with the brain, it can see only through the physical eye. It cannot hear without the human ear.
PROOF: A blind man has this human spirit IN him -- but it sees NOTHING. This spirit is IN a deaf man. But he cannot hear, though he has full powers of MIND otherwise.
Since this spirit cannot see without a functioning physical eye, nor hear without a properly functioning physical ear, in a LIVING man, it most certainly cannot see or hear apart from a DEAD man.
Neither can it KNOW or THINK apart from the physical brain. By a physical drug the physical brain may be rendered unconscious. This drug cannot affect the spirit in the man -- yet he KNOWS NOTHING while the brain is rendered unconscious, even though his spirit is still in him.
Thus, as the Bible plainly says, dead men "know not anything." This spirit is not the man. It is merely something IN him which imparts intellect or MIND power to the brain. It is NOT a ghost. It is spirit ESSENCE. It is merely an ingredient added to the brain which produces human MIND. It is a HUMAN spirit. The MAN with this spirit can know only PHYSICAL things. It requires the addition of ANOTHER Spirit -- God's HOLY Spirit -- to open the human mind to comprehension of spiritual things (I Cor. 2:9-10).
GOD says that what came from the dust was the MAN. Satan deceives men into believing that what came from the ground was NOT the MAN, but the HOUSE in which the man dwells -- the GARMENT the MAN wears -- the PRISON which holds the "immortal soul" captive!
Jesus Christ said, "That which is born of the flesh [matter from the ground] IS FLESH [matter from dust]." Nowhere does the Bible say man IS a spirit. It says man is mortal. It says the soul that sins shall DIE.
Jesus Christ said man may be BORN AGAIN -- next time, born of GOD, who is a SPIRIT (John 3:3-7). THEN, He said, we shall BE SPIRIT. But now we are FLESH! Christ came to reveal the HOPE of humanity -- to be BORN of GOD, by a resurrection from the dead. Born into the very GOD FAMILY. That is what salvation is! Satan has blinded a deceived world from this GREAT HOPE! He seeks to destroy all this, deceiving men into believing man is already immortal -- an "immortal soul" that can't die -- could not be resurrected from the DEAD!
Thus Satan seeks to destroy the Gospel! Satan represents the "spirit in man" as being, itself, the conscious MAN. The true FACT is, the "spirit IN man" merely imparts certain characteristics to the physical BRAIN.
4. What does the spirit in man add to man's brain? I Cor. 2:11.
COMMENT: It is this spirit that is IN man, which, added to material BRAIN, gives this human brain the functions of MIND. But this Scripture PLAINLY says that this spirit is merely something that is IN the MAN. It is NOT the MAN!
This spirit IN man cannot, of itself, see anything. The human BRAIN SEES through the human physical EYE. It hears through the physical ear. The spirit in man cannot know, or think, or remember, OF ITSELF. Of itself, it has no consciousness. It merely IMPARTS human mind-powers and personality to the human brain.
A man dies, and in that very day his thinking stops, his thoughts cease (Psalm 146:4). Dead people are totally unconscious -- they know nothing (Eccl. 9:5). At death, this spirit has no consciousness -- it SLEEPS (I Cor. 11:30; 15:51; I Thes. 4:14).
But this spirit is NOT the "soul." That which God formed out of material dust became the soul! THE SOUL IS MATERIAL -- NOT SPIRITUAL.
This HUMAN spirit imparts to the human brain the power of MIND. Without it, no man could comprehend HUMAN knowledge WHICH IS WHOLLY PHYSICAL AND MATERIAL KNOWLEDGE. This knowledge is confined to that which enters the mind through the five sensory channels. But such a mind STILL cannot comprehend spiritual knowledge.
5. How, then, can man know and understand SPIRITUAL things? I Cor. 2:11. Be sure to read this verse in its context.
COMMENT: Spiritual things cannot be seen with the eye, heard with the ear, felt with the hands. The greatest minds -- scientific, philosophical minds -- cannot really come to know and understand SPIRITUAL truths.
Just as no animal BRAIN, without this human SPIRIT that is IN MAN, can have MIND and comprehension of PHYSICAL knowledge on the HUMAN plane; even so, no HUMAN MIND can have comprehension of spiritual things on the DIVINE plane, unless or until the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD has been imparted to this human mind.
Satan has deceived the whole world into counterfeiting this human spirit, and representing it as an immortal soul. THAT IS SATAN'S LIE!
How to Receive Eternal Life
Man is a physical being, POSSESSING ONLY PHYSICAL LIFE. If man is to live forever SO HE CAN CLAIM THE PROMISES MADE TO ABRAHAM, he must acquire ETERNAL life. But how?
1. Is eternal life a GIFT that God must bestow upon man? Romans 6:23.
2. What did Jesus answer the young man who asked how to obtain this gift of eternal life? Matthew 19:17. Is keeping God's commandments a requirement?
3. Is obedience to God necessary in order to receive the Holy Spirit -- the POWER which imparts to us the gift of eternal life? Compare Acts 5:32 with Acts 2:38. Notice also Rom. 8:11.
COMMENT: Even though we obey God while composed of earthly flesh, that obedience does not earn or impart eternal life. Obedience is a CONDITION to continued receipt of the Holy Spirit (incorrectly translated "Holy Ghost") -- the POWER by which we are raised from the dead to eternal life -- to immortality! (I Cor. 15:44, 50-54.)
We must be raised from the dead. We must be born again -- born of God who is Spirit (John 4:24) in order to gain immortality.
4. When we are raised from the dead and born -- born again from above -- of what are we to be composed -- of spirit? John 3:6. How does this compare with I Corinthians 15:44-46?
COMMENT: BEING BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS NOT A REFORMING OF AN IMMORTAL SOUL we are now supposed to possess -- but a NEW BIRTH. That is the reason Jesus said, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). You must be raised from the dead. Through a resurrection, and simultaneously BEING BORN OF THE SPIRIT, YOU WILL then HAVE a body of spirit -- ETERNALLY LIVING Spirit -- and NOT one of fleshly protoplasm subject to death! You will be born as an immortal spirit into THE VERY FAMILY OF GOD (Eph. 3:15 and Heb. 12:9).
Only God Is Immortal!
Many still twist all of these Bible passages about death and apply them to the body, clinging to the pagan idea that they now possess an immortal soul. Let us notice how the Bible uses the words "immortal" and "immortality."
1. Where is the only place in the Bible that the word "immortal" appears? I Timothy 1:17.
COMMENT: This verse refers to Jesus Christ, the world's coming King, who was made immortal and very God through a resurrection to eternal life.
2. According to I Timothy 6:16, who has immortality inherently -- God or man?
3. Who brought to MANKIND the knowledge of how to achieve eternal life and immortality? II Timothy 1:10. Does this verse indicate that immortality is something man already has? Through what was immortality brought to light? Same verse. Isn't the Gospel, then, the good news about how to gain immortality?
4. Is immortality to be sought for? Romans 2:7. Is eternal life a FREE GIFT bestowed on those who seek for immortality? Same verse and Rom. 6:23.
5. Now turn to I Corinthians 15:53 and 54. Do these two verses say that man is immortal already? What must man PUT ON? When will man be clothed with immortality? Verse 52. Is this the time of the resurrection? I Thes. 4:16.
6. Did David, King of Israel, ascend to heaven as an immortal soul when he died? Acts 2:29 and 34. Has any man, except Christ, ascended to heaven? John 3:13. Will David become immortal when raised from the dead at the resurrection? Jeremiah 30:9.
COMMENT: Some, at this point, will think of Enoch and Elijah and assume that they prove that man has an immortal soul. If you have not read the truth about Enoch and Elijah, visit the Church of God Faithful Flock website immediately to view the Free on-line booklet, "Where Are Enoch and Elijah?" You will be astounded at the answer!
7. Did David prophesy of the resurrection of Christ? Acts 2:30-31. What was David's specific prophecy? Verses 27 and 31. Does not this prove that the resurrection was demonstrated by the fact that Christ's soul was not left in hell?
COMMENT: The resurrection of Christ involved the resurrection of His soul -- is BODY -- from the grave. The Greek word "psuche", translated "soul" and "life" in the King James Version, has the same meaning as the Hebrew word "nephesh". It was the "psuche" or soul -- the body of Christ after his lifeblood was spilled -- that was buried. That is what was resurrected! From where? From "hell." But what does "hell" mean? The place where Christ's body was buried! The grave or sepulchre. See John 19:41-42 and 20:4. A full explanation of the subject of hell will appear in the next lesson of the Correspondence Course!
Why a Resurrection?
If man were an immortal soul in a material body -- and if the death of the body releases the soul -- then there would be no need for a resurrection to immortal life. Man would merely CONTINUE living after death. But THE VERY FACT THAT THE BIBLE TEACHES THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD IS POSITIVE PROOF THAT MAN HAS NO IMMORTAL SOUL. Here is further proof from your Bible!
1. IF Christ had not risen from the dead, would our faith be all in vain? I Cor. 15:14. Why? Verse 17. And what has happened to those who already are dead in their graves, if Christ is STILL dead? Verse 18. Have they PERISHED forever?
2. However, did Christ Himself warn that the unregenerate, or unrepentant, man is to perish? John 3:16 and Luke 13:3, 5. If man were an immortal soul, could he actually perish? -- or would he still keep on living? Isn't it plain that the word "perish" means to CEASE LIVING?
3. Notice the example of Adam. Was he permitted to eat the fruit of the "tree of [eternal] life" after he sinned? Gen. 3:22-24, especially last part of verse 22.
4. Would Adam and Eve have naturally lived forever as immortal souls, or would eternal life have come as a consequence of partaking of something NOT INHERENT in themselves? Gen. 3:22.
5. How did the Devil deceive Eve? Genesis 3:4. Isn't this the same lie which is being preached today as the doctrine of the immortality of the soul -- saying man already has eternal life inherent within himself? Then is the Devil actually the originator of this false doctrine?
COMMENT: The "tree of life" symbolized the way to eternal life the Holy Spirit. If Adam would have eaten of -- partaken of -- the fruit of that tree, rather than of the forbidden tree, he would have received the Holy Spirit which is the very life of God.
Adam was created incomplete. He was created to need the Holy Spirit of God in order to live forever. Adam, however, had to choose whether or not he would accept the free gift of the Holy Spirit. He chose NOT to receive the Holy Spirit by disobeying God and was thereafter cut off from access to the tree of life! Here is yet another proof that no man has eternal life INHERENT within himself.
6. Job once asked the question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14.) What was Job's answer to his own question? Same verse.
7. Did Job speak of a CHANGE that was yet coming? What was that change? I Cor. 15:51-53. When will it take place?
8. When that change comes, what will Job, David and all those in the resurrection be like? Psalm 17:15. Will we be like God in the resurrection? Is God spirit? Are we to be composed of spirit then? I Cor. 15:44. Compare this with I John 3:2-3. Are we to be like Christ? Is Christ now composed of spirit? II Cor. 3:17.
9. At the resurrection, who will HEAR the voice of the Son of God? John 5:25. Are immortal souls going to hear it, or are the DEAD going to hear?
COMMENT: The dead cannot hear unless there is a RESURRECTION! The dead are pictured as being ASLEEP IN THEIR GRAVES, awaiting the day of the resurrection. Notice Jesus' words when describing the death of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha: " 'OUR FRIEND LAZARUS SLEEPETH; But I go, that I may AWAKE HIM OUT OF SLEEP.' Then said his disciples, 'Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.' Howbeit JESUS SPAKE OF HIS DEATH: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead' " (John 11:11-14).
Death is described as a sleep because THE DEAD ARE NOT CONSCIOUS. Notice the plain evidence of Scripture: "And many of them that SLEEP IN THE DUST of the earth shall awake" (Daniel 12:2). "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of THE SAINTS WHICH SLEPT arose" (Mat. 27:52). "And when thy days be fulfilled," said God to David, "and thou shalt SLEEP with thy fathers ..." (II Samuel 7:12).
DEATH IS described as a SLEEP over 36 times in the Bible when referring to the kings of Israel and Judah! "David SLEPT with his fathers" (I Kings 2:10). Notice that it does not say "the body slept, but the soul was conscious." It plainly says, "DAVID slept." IT WAS THE CONSCIOUS PERSON WHO FELL ASLEEP IN DEATH!
In the following verses the same expression is used to describe death. Look each one up and see for yourself that death is a sleep! I Kings 11:21, 43 and 14:20, 31 and 15:8, 24 and 16:6, 28 and 22:40, 50; II Kings 8:24 and 10:35 and 13:9, 13 and 14:16, 22, 29 and 15:7, 22, 38 and 16:20 and 20:21 and 21:18 and 24:6; II Chronicles 9:31 and 12:16 and 14:1 and 16:13 and 21:1 and 26:2, 23 and 27:9 and 28:27 and 32:33 and 33:20.
CERTAINLY HERE IS EVIDENCE THAT THE DEAD ARE NOT CONSCIOUS. THE UNCONSCIOUS SPIRIT ESSENCE IN EACH MAN AND WOMAN -- "THE SPIRIT IN MAN" -- SLEEPS!
10. When the dead hear the voice of the Son of God at the resurrection, where will they come from -- heaven? John 5:28-29. Or will they come out of their graves? If they come out of their graves, that is where they must have been! Notice that these verses do NOT say that the souls descend from heaven and join the bodies -- rather the dead come to life through a resurrection and leave their graves to join Christ (I Thes. 4:17).
11. When that INSTANTANEOUS CHANGE comes at the resurrection, are we to be clothed with - TO PUT ON - SPIRIT? I Cor. 15:51-53 and II Cor. 5:1-5 Is this spirit eternal? Last part of II Cor. 5:1 and II Cor. 4:18. Does the spirit which will compose us at the resurrection come down from heaven? Notice II Cor. 5, verse 2. If we have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, after repenting, believing, and being baptized, do we even now have the "earnest" of the spirit? II Cor. 5:5.
COMMENT: The "earnest" of the spirit means a small portion of spirit given by God to bind His bargain with us that He will finally give us eternal life. See a dictionary for the full definition of the word "earnest."
12. Unless we have the Holy Spirit abiding in us, have we any right to be called Christ's or Christians? Romans 8:9.
13. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, will it be the agent by which God quickens, or makes alive, our mortal bodies at the resurrection? Rom. 8:11. If we are begotten and led by the Spirit of God, what are we? Verse 14-15.
When Did Paul Expect to Be with Christ?
There are some who believe that when Christians die they go immediately to heaven to be with Christ. They claim Paul's statement in Philippians 1:23-24 as supposed proof. Let us study these verses, to see if they overthrow all the rest of Scripture and teach that man is an immortal soul after all.
1. Did Paul have a desire to be with Christ? Phil. 1:23. Should all Christians have the same desire?
2. But does this verse state WHERE Paul would go and WHEN he would be with Christ? No! There is not one word here mentioning heaven as the place Paul wanted to be, nor is there one word saying that Paul would be with Christ IMMEDIATELY. People read these ideas into the Bible, but they are not there!
3. Did Paul expect to be with Christ after he was "offered" -- KILLED? II Timothy 4:6-8. Was the time of Paul's DEATH then at hand? What did he expect to receive from Christ when he would meet Him? Verse 8. When did he expect to receive this crown? What "day" is Paul referring to? -- the day immediately after his death, or the day of the resurrection? Last part of verse 8. Isn't the time of Christ's appearing plainly the time of the resurrection?
4. When Christ returns, will He bring His rewards with Him to give to those who are resurrected? Isaiah 40:10 and Revelation 22:12.
5. When are all the Christians to meet the Lord? I Thes. 4:16-17.
COMMENT: Those who are dead in their graves are not conscious; they have no knowledge of passing time. The very next moment in their consciousnesses will be the time of the resurrection! That is why Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:9-10: "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present [alive in the flesh] or absent [dead in the grave], we may be accepted of Him."
Verse 10 tells! At the judgment when Christ returns. That is when Paul expects to receive the reward of his labors! See II Timothy 4:1. Proof of a conscious immortal soul? No! Proof, rather, of the RESURRECTION, and of the "spirit in man" which sleeps until the resurrection.
Can the Soul Be Destroyed?
One final scripture is frequently quoted in an attempt to support the ERRONEOUS doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That scripture is Matthew 10:28. Open your Bible to this verse and read it.
1. According to Matthew 10:28, is the soul something that can be DESTROYED? Then doesn't Jesus plainly show that the "SOUL" IS NOT IMMORTAL? Let's understand exactly what Jesus is talking about.
2. Aren't Christians to reckon themselves as already being SYMBOLICALLY DEAD through water baptism? Rom. 6:4 and 11.
3. Is the "old man" -- the OLD SINFUL LIFE OR SOUL -- TO HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED with Christ? Rom. 6:3-6. Is this old carnal mind, the CARNAL ATTITUDE, the carnal self or soul, to be reckoned as figuratively having DIED with Christ? Verse 8.
COMMENT: When a person repents of his sins, God requires him to FIGURATIVELY KILL his own old sinful soul, or life, by being immersed, or baptized -- BURIED -- in water.
4. Since CHRISTIANS HAVE ALREADY RECKONED THEIR SINFUL LIVES -- OR THEIR SOULS -- AS DEAD with Christ, is the body the only remaining thing which men can kill? Mat. 10:28. Let's understand the full significance of this scripture.
COMMENT: Men can kill the body. But they cannot touch the SPIRIT IN MAN! The "soul" that men cannot kill is also symbolic of the BEGOTTEN SPIRITUAL LIFE of a Christian. Notice how:
The mind of a new convert is begotten at conversion by the Spirit of God. A NEW SPIRITUAL life actually begins! But the Spirit of God is NOT ANOTHER CONSCIOUSNESS; it is spiritual life from God that joins with the human spirit IN the man and converts the conscious mind into a "new creature" -- or CREATION -- with the potential of eternal life.
Most people do not understand the meaning of the word "conversion." It is a CHEMICAL term. It means "to change the nature of." In other words, the Spirit of God, which is added to your mind when you repent and surrender your life to Him, IS THE AGENT BY WHICH YOUR CARNAL MIND IS TO BE CHANGED INTO A SPIRITUAL MIND -- CHANGED from a being of corruptible flesh with a carnal mind INTO A SPIRITUAL BEING -- ACTUALLY COMPOSED OF SPIRIT, with the power of an endless life! Conversion, then, ultimately means much more than a change of attitude. It includes a change in composition -- A CHANGE FROM PHYSICAL MATTER TO IMMORTAL SPIRIT!
But this change does not take place all at once. It BEGINS WHEN YOU BECOME BEGOTTEN by the Spirit of God. In this life what is changed is your attitude, your character, your mind's outlook on life. It is NOT UNTIL THE RESURRECTION THAT YOU ARE TO BE COMPLETELY CONVERTED into spirit. It is at the resurrection that this conversion is finally completed!
At death your conscious self dies. Your mind ceases to think (Eccl. 9:5). But the power or Spirit of God that begot the new spiritual life within you is reserved in heaven and will recreate your mind and your character from the MOLD of your human spirit which has been asleep. For those still alive at the moment of Christ's return, the power of God will quicken or make immortal their mortal bodies. That new spiritual life now begotten within you -- if you have truly been begotten by God -- even though it LOSES CONSCIOUSNESS AT DEATH, your enemies have no power over. It is your RIGHT to eternal life which no MAN can take from you!
But IF YOU WILLFULLY REBEL against God and become incorrigible after the knowledge of the truth is manifest to your mind, GOD WILL DESTROY BOTH THE BODY AND ANY CHANCE OF A FUTURE LIFE ("SOUL") IN HELL-FIRE! You will be burned up! And from that there will never be a resurrection. That will be your end for all eternity! But more about this in the next lesson.
"Body, Soul and Spirit"?
The pagan philosophers believed that man was an immortal soul in a material body. The Catholic Church has ADOPTED this view.
But many PROTESTANTS today CLAIM THAT MAN IS "BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT." But as to which is immortal -- the soul or the spirit -- they never seem quite sure! Now let us notice what THE BIBLE REVEALS about "body, soul and spirit."
1. Does not the apostle Paul sometimes refer to man as "body, soul, and spirit"? I Thes. 5:23. Does this verse prove the doctrine of the "immortality of the soul"? What does the word "spirit" mean in I Thes. 5:23? Turn to I Cor. 2:11 for the answer. It refers to the human spirit essence IN mortal man.
2. Isn't it rather plain that Paul, in I Thes. 5:23, is referring to the POWER OF MIND when he uses the word "SPIRIT"? And to the physical LIFE when he uses the word "SOUL"? And to the FLESH when he uses the word "BODY"? WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING YOUR WHOLE MIND, your LIFE, and your BODY PRESERVED BLAMELESS -- PRESERVED FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN -- in anticipation of the coming of Christ? Compare II Cor. 7:1 with I Thes. 5:23.
COMMENT: How plain the Bible is. Man is MORTAL, corruptible flesh -- organic matter with a temporary life. He has NO immortal soul. He has no hope of a future life in himself. He is doomed -- except for the intervention of the Almighty. And God did intervene to send His Son to make possible through the Gospel a new birth -- a new life as Spirit -- and immortality.
Because all have sinned -- because the human race has made itself utterly miserable, God commands men everywhere to REPENT, to believe in Jesus Christ, to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit. God has given this plan because He loves us -- because he has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked ... Turn ye, TURN YE, from your evil ways; FOR WHY will ye DIE," asks the Almighty in Ezekiel 33:11.