Discourse 22 - Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?




Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul? / Book H. J. Twisselmann 00, no. 123/124

The philosophical background

The teachings

The analysis

Summary

Can the soul not be killed? / Commentary KHF 00, 2016-02-03

The Catholic dogma of the immortality of the soul.

How the doctrine of the immortality of the soul entered Christianity. / Bibelstudien-Institut [Institute of Biblical Studies] 00, 2016-02-03

Distinguishing between the true religion and false religions..

The eternal existence of every human being.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul? / Book HJT00, no. 123/124*)

The Old Testament knows nothing of the "immortal soul". Human beings are “like grass, which grows up; in the morning it flourishes and grows, in the evening it is cut down and withers” (Ps 90,5.6; 102,12). They are “like the flower of the field” (Ps 103,15; 1 Ptr 1,24), or even to be compared with dust (Ps 104,14; 104,28). Existing apart from God, having no life in themselves, when they die there is nothing to distinguish them from the beasts: they have “a common fate”, and “all go unto one place: all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again” (Ecc 3,19-20). The human soul too - for which the Hebrew term is “nephesh” - will not escape from death (Num 23,10, Ps 143,7). Samson cried out: “Let my soul die with the Philistines” (Jude 16,30). So if the soul can die (and if it sins, it must die), it cannot be described as “immortal”.

In many passages the Bible characterizes the entire human being as a “soul”. This attitude already finds expression in the story of creation (Gen 2,7)! See also Eze 18,4.20 etc. In other passages the word “soul” has the same meaning as “life” (Isa 53,12, where “soul” is the actual word used: “that he has spilled his soul in death”). Finally, the Bible even attributes a “soul” to animals (Gen 1,20.24; 2,19).

Corresponding to the Hebrew word “nephesh”, the New Testament term “psyche” does not refer to a soul that can exist in separation from the body, by which human beings are distinguished from animals: it generally means the entire human being, consisting of the dust of the earth and the breath of life (body and spirit). According to Jesus’ words in Lk 17,33 and 9,24, if a human being seeks to save his life, he can actually “lose” it. According to Mt 10,28, God can destroy (or “put to death” - thus the concordance rendering) “both body and soul” in Gehenna. If God can destroy the soul or put it to death, then the soul cannot be immortal. (...) All attempts to attribute immortality to humanity - or to a component part of humanity - are countered by the New Testament, which praises God as the “king over all kings and lord over all lords, who alone possesses immortality...” (1 Tim 6,15-16).

If God alone possesses immortality, then any discussion of a supposedly “immortal soul” that belongs to humanity immediately becomes pointless. In that case all humanity’s hankering after eternity and all its longing for salvation can only meet with a single response: that which redirects it to God, the source of all life! God has already brought it about that life, in Our Lord Jesus Christ, has irrupted into this death-devoted world, and has put eternal life, immortality indeed, within our reach. This is not an intrinsic possession of ours, however: we will receive it on the Second Coming of Our Lord in the Resurrection of the dead.

* This extract is taken from the article by H. J. Twisselmann in “Life and Immortality without Christ?”

(H. J. Twisselmann, Brücke zum Menschen [A Bridge to Humanity] no. 123/124, Bruderdienst-Missionsverlag e. V. [Brotherly Service Missionary Publishing]).



The philosophical background

The idea of the immortality is already to be found - on a philosophical basis - in antiquity, in the works of Plato (an Athenian philosopher who lived 427-347 BC). He was the first to make a distinction between the sense soul and the spirit soul (the “logistikon” or reasoning part), and to have postulated that the two were united in humanity. It was Aristotle (384-322 BC), however, who made the first and most productive attempt to grasp the human being metaphysically and in toto through the concept of the soul. In his view the soul was in the first instance a vivifying principle (the vital or vegetative soul), this served in its turn as a basis for the animal or sensitive soul, that is to say, the feeling, craving and feeling soul. This “lower” soul arises from the act of conception. In its turn, it is subject to a “formative influence” coming from the reasonable or spirit soul, so that the latter, in the last resort, determines the “form of the body”. In this higher soul, what was instinct on a lower level now becomes will, and what was sensuous presentation becomes conscious recognition. This spirit soul comes “from without”, according to Aristotle: this is the only component of humanity that pre-exists, is immortal and contradicts, by its very existence, a materialist and reductionist world view.


The teachings

The teaching of the Catholic Church

Within Christian teaching, it is only Catholic dogma that has made any attempt to develop this concept of the immortality of the soul as a metaphysically given fact. Here immortality, as referred to a human being, means that his personal center of identity cannot be annihilated - that this personal center survives death and the dissolution of physical existence. At a very early stage the Christian church took on influential conceptions derived from Plato and Neoplatonism, and from the 13th century on was no less influenced by Aristotle. The basic idea was that the human soul participates in eternal values - the true, the good ;- and so is not, in the end, subject to the conditions of space and time; the spirit soul is simple in substance, and so not subject to dissolution from within or destruction from without - it lasts eternally. This doctrine was defined as dogma in the year 1515 at the Fifth Lateran Council, and has remained a basic dogma of the Catholic Church to the present day.

The Evangelical point of view

The majority of the Evangelical churches rely, quite properly, not on a philosophical set of ideas but on the Holy Scriptures, and argue much as H. J. Twisselmann does in the article quoted above.

The “total death theory”

We can see from the last sentences of this article that the author is not concerned to deny the promise of eternal life granted to the faithful after the Resurrection; rather he is concerned here with the time between death and Resurrection, and with the question whether the human being - or a component part of the human being - continues to exist in death or not.

Here we reach the opposite extreme of the possible range of opinion on this issue: the “total death theory”. This is the view that postulates that the human being is totally annihilated in death and so absolutely ceases to exist for the time in question. At all events, those who support this thesis hasten to allow for the possibility of the human being’s being newly created by God (as a result of his “eternal memory”) in the Resurrection.


The analysis

The realm of the dead

We intend now to proceed step by step, testing one theory after another to see how far it appears plausible. Let us begin with the “total death theory”. Now, we have clear indications, both in the Old and the New Testament, that human beings have consciousness during the time that they are dead - that is, that they exist in the realm of the dead.

Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?

1Sam 28,8 Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.” 28,9 But the woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who are mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you then laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” 28,10 Saul vowed to her by the LORD, saying, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” 28,11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 28,12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.” 28,13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” 28,14 He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage. 28,15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” 1Sam 28, 8-15;


This text tells us how King Saul, with the help of a witch who is a necromancer, makes the prophet Samuel come up from the realm of the dead, and how Samuel prophesies the destruction of the king’s host on the day following, the king’s death and the death of his sons. This could not have occurred if Samuel, after his death, had been totally obliterated. Seeing that Samuel on this occasion did not come back to life, but clearly returned to the realm of the dead, we cannot call this a Resurrection.

Furthermore, we have a whole string of passages in the Old Testament where the realm of the dead is mentioned.

And You have delivered my soul from the depths of the realm of the dead.

Ps 86,12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever. 86,13 For Your lovingkindness toward me is great, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of the realm of the dead. Ps 86,12-13;

You have brought up my soul from the realm of the dead.

Ps 30,3 O LORD, You have brought up my soul from the realm of the dead; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Ps 30. 3;

Let us swallow them alive like the realm of the dead.

Pro 1,11 If they say, Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; 1,12 Let us swallow them alive like the realm of the dead, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit. Spr 1,11-12;

Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of the realm of the dead.

Prv 5,5 Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of the realm of the dead. 5,6 She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Spr 5, 5-6;

Her house is the way to the realm of the dead.

Prv 7,27 Her house is the way to the realm of the dead, descending to the chambers of death. Spr 7,27;

Three things will not be satisfied, four that will not say, “Enough”: the realm of the dead.

Prv 30,15 The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.” There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, “Enough”: 30,16 the realm of the dead, and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, And fire that never says, “Enough.” Spr 30,15-16;

Oh that You would hide me in the realm of the dead.

Job 14,13 Oh that You would hide me in the realm of the dead, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me! Job 14,13;

Naked is the realm of the dead before Him.

Job 26,6 Naked is the realm of the dead before Him, And Abaddon has no covering. Job 26,06;

Therefore the realm of the dead has enlarged its throat without measure.

Isa 5,14 Therefore the realm of the dead has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it. Isa 5,14;

The realm of the dead from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come.

Isa 14,9 The realm of the dead from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. 14,10 They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we, You have become like us.’ Isa 14, 9-10;

We have made a covenant with death, and with the realm of the dead we have made a pact.

Isa 28,15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, And with the realm of the dead we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.” Isa 28,15;

You have sent your envoys a great distance and made them go down to the realm of the dead.

Isa 57,9 You have journeyed to the king with oil And increased your perfumes; You have sent your envoys a great distance And made them go down to the realm of the dead. Isa 57, 9;

Shall I ransom them from the power of the realm of the dead?

Hos 13,14 Shall I ransom them from the power of the realm of the dead? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight. Hos 13,14;


The mention of the realm of the dead, taken on its own, is sufficient proof that it is a place of abode for the dead. And how could there be a place of abode if there were no one to populate it?

In the New Testament, as well, we find references to the realm of the dead which confirm to us that a human being cannot, when he dies, be “totally dead” or “completely obliterated”.

So will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Mt 12,38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 12,39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 12,40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mt 12,38-40;

He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.

1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 3,19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 3,20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1Pet 3,18-20;

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead.

1Pet 4,6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 1Pet 4,6;

What does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Eph 4,8 Therefore it says, “when He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” 4,9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 4,10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) Eph 4, 8-10;


Most especially the indication in 1Pet 4,6, quoted above, that the Lord preached the gospel to the dead during those three days which he spent in the realm of the dead is clearly enough to reduce the “total death theory” to absurdity.

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection ‒ Christ in the realm of the dead.”)


The soul.

We may now turn to that Evangelical point of view which asserts that there can be no such thing as the immortality of the soul, because the soul - as revealed in many scriptural passages - “does not escape from death”, “dies” or can be “destroyed and put to death”.

And of course we must give our entire consent to these assertions. The immortality of the soul is really not a biblical concept. On the contrary, the Hebrew word “nephesh” in the Old Testament stands for the God-given life of any creature - of a human being, or of an animal too, for that matter.

I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with every living soul that is with you.

Gen 9,9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; 9,10 and with every living soul that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. 9,11 I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” Gen 9, 9-11;

He utterly destroyed it and its king and all the souls that were in it.

Jos 10,28 Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and all the souls that were in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho. Jos 10,28;


In Jos 10,28, quoted above, where Joshua condemns to death all souls that are in the city and leaves no survivors, we can again see plainly that the Old Testament regards the soul as perishable.

Moreover “nephesh” in the Old Testament is also used for life, creature, human being, person, heart etc. - so that the term “nephesh” or soul is again seen to fall in the category of perishable existents. And in the following texts we are told, quite definitely, what and where the soul is.

I will require your lifeblood; from every man’s brother I will require the soul of man.

Gen 9,5 Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the soul of man. Gen 9, 5;

For as for the soul of all flesh, its blood is identified with its soul.

Lev 17,10 ‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.

17,11 For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ 17,12 Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.’

17,13 So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 17,14 For as for the soul of all flesh, its blood is identified with its soul. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ Lev 17,10-14;

For the blood is the soul, and you shall not eat the soul with the flesh.

Gen 12,23 Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul, and you shall not eat the soul with the flesh. 12,24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. 12,25 You shall not eat it, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you, for you will be doing what is right in the sight of the LORD. Gen 12,23-25;


So the soul is in the blood, or the blood actually is the soul; and in consequence the blood should not - according to the commandments of the Old Testament - be eaten along with the flesh, but must be poured out on the ground.

But we also find a similar commandment, relating to the blood, in the New Testament. In the New Testament the soul is represented by the Greek word “psyche”, corresponding to the Hebrew “nephesh”. And the prohibition on the eating of the blood applies here both to the believing Christians who comes of Jewish stock and to those who are of the Gentiles.

That they abstain from idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.

Acts 15,19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 15,20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. Acts 15,19-20;

That you abstain from idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.

Acts 15,28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 15,29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15,28-29;

The Gentiles should abstain from idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.

Acts 21,25 “But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Acts 21,25;


The New Testament also gives us direct indications referring to the soul of human beings or to the “soul-directed” human being.

But a natural (literally: psychical) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.

1Cor 2,13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 2,14 But a natural (literally: psychical) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 2,15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 1Cor 2,13-15;

These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

Jud 1,18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 1,19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly- (literally: psychical-) minded, devoid of the Spirit. 1,20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Jud ;1,18-20;


So this “natural”, “earthly” or “soul-directed” (psychical) human being does not accept the things that are of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And it is also people like this, devoid of the Spirit, who cause divisions.

(See also Discourse 80: “The souls of the martyrs in Rev 6,9: who are they, and where do they come from?”)


The spirit

We seem to have offered sufficient proof that it cannot be the soul - as the Catholic Church supposes - which after the death of a human being awaits the Resurrection in the realm of the dead. But in that case, what is it?

Here we must again refer back to Plato. Plato already made a distinction between the “sense soul” and the “spirit soul” (the “logistikon” or “reasoning part” in man). And this is also the impression we receive if we look at things in an unprejudiced way - that two “powers” dwell within human beings. It is not just brought to our attention by the frequently quoted line “Two souls, alas, are lodging in my breast” - it is also the inner struggle well known to each and every one of us, the struggle between emotion and thinking, or between the feelings and the reason, which points to, and actually confirms the fact that the human being, quite apart from the “living soul” he possesses (feelings, heart, blood) and which he actually is (as creature, human being, flesh), is yet controlled by a second power: namely, conscience, reason and morality.

And as our analysis hitherto shows, this second power in the human being, the spirit, most definitely has nothing in common with that definition of the soul that we find in the Holy Scriptures. Otherwise all other creatures with souls, that is to say, all animals as well, whose metabolism is carried on by means of a network of blood vessels, would have to be endowed with the gift of reason. But that is patently not the case. ;

The presence of this second power can be demonstrated from the Scriptures.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit.

Rom 8,16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Rom 8,16;

The spirit of the man which is in him.

1Cor 2,11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 1Cor 2,11;


In this passage as well Paul refers to the spirit in man and compares it with the Spirit of God. He tells us here that just in the same way as the spirit of a man alone knows what is within him, so too only the Spirit of God knows what is within God. And this now seems to be a pointer to this second power in human beings, separate from the soul: the spirit of the human being.

But we have a still more detailed statement in a passage where the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews actually refers to both powers - the soul and the spirit - quite explicitly:

For the word of God is piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit.

Hbr 4,12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 4,13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Heb 4,12-13;


This indwelling of the spirit and the soul in our physical body is likewise confirmed by Paul in 1The 5,23.

May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame.

1The 5,2 ;Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1The 5,23;


This seems then to confirm that two powers are present in the human being: the soul and the spirit. Whereas the soul dies and is dissolved when death occurs - as does the “flesh”, the biological and corporeal part - the spirit cannot be annihilated, but returns to God, who gave it in the first place, as a passage in Ecclesiastes (Ecc 12,7) tells us.

The spirit will return to God who gave it.

Ecc 12,7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecc 12, 7;


We must however avoid confusing this God-granted spirit of the human being with the Holy Spirit. Although both come from God, it is only the former which accompanies the human being in his passage from birth to death. The Holy Spirit - that is, the Spirit of God Himself - may also dwell within the believing Christian. One of many scriptural examples of this is Acts 7,54-57:

But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God.

Acts 7,54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 7,55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 7,56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 7,57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. Acts 7,54-57;


Just before he was stoned, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, and saw the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God in heaven. We can recognize from this that at moments like this both powers, the human spirit as well as the Spirit of God, are present in human beings.

And Paul speaks of just the same thing when he says, in Rom 8,16, that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, Himself is present in us and testifies together with our human spirit that we are children of God.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

Rom 8,16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 8,17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Rom 8,16-17;


But the conclusion that the “ordinary” spirit of a human being comes from God can also be confirmed from other scriptural passages.

O God, God of the spirits of all flesh.

Num 16,22 But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?” Num 16,22;

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created.

Ps 104,29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire And return to their dust. 104,30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground. Ps 104,29-30;

(See also Chapter 08: “The reorganization of heaven and earth”)


As the psalmist here says, God has given the Spirit to human beings, but he can take it away again whenever he pleases. As the Scriptures tells us, before the Flood human beings lived to much greater age than in postdiluvian times. We have a proof that this change was intended by God in Gen 6,3.

My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.

Gen 6,3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Gen 6, 3;

(See also Excursus 08: “The first and the second death”)


And here again we find that both life forces are referred to, on the one hand the spirit and on the other the flesh - that is, that which the Old Testament understands by “soul”. This polarity between the spirit and the flesh (or soul) is also mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Mt 26,41:

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Mt 26,41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mt 26,41;


This saying of the Lord’s shows us two things: first, that the human being is determined by the interaction of two rather contrasting inner powers, and secondly, that the one power, the spirit, is “willing” and so is also open to receive God’s commandments, while the other power, the soul, is less accessible to intellectual and rational arguments and is rather concerned to cater for the needs of the “flesh” - that is, the part of the human being which connects him, as “soul”, with all other creatures that have soul but do not possess the gift of reason.

The Lord does not leave us in any doubt, however, that in spite of the opposition of these inner forces it is the supreme command that must be taken as applying to both of them. In the following passage, Mt 23,37, the Lord quotes Deut 6,5, where it is written: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”, and he replaces (or supplements, in Luke and Mark) this word “might” with the expression “mind”, which is another pointer to the God-given spirit in the human being. The commandment to love God therefore applies to both, to the soul as well as to the spirit, and so to the human being as a whole.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Mt 22,37 And He said to him, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22,38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 22,39 The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 22,40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Mt 22,37-40;

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deut 6,4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 6,5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6,6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. Deut 6, 4- 6;


Now while the soul, as we have seen above, is present in the blood and so, clearly, in the whole human body (in the “flesh”), the physical location of the human spirit is not defined by the Scriptures in the same unambiguous way. It would of course be an obvious choice to see the brain as being the seat of the spirit. But here we need to be careful. In the first place, the bloodstream also supplies the brain, after all, so that in a purely physical sense it is present as “soul” in the brain as well; and secondly, we can make a distinction between the brain’s component parts - the upper brain (also known as the endbrain or cerebrum) and the brain stem. Whereas only human beings have an upper brain that is large and exhibits a considerable degree of complexity, constituting the foundation for their functioning on the spiritual level, the brain stem is there to serve the basic motor, sensitive and vegetative functions which are more or less common to all vertebrates in a like manner.

Seeing it from this angle, it would be wholly conceivable that both powers, soul and spirit, might have common use of the human “thinking apparatus”, the understanding, so as to steer the human being and his body in whatever direction - under the impulsion of feelings and drives, or the direction of conscience and reason. Paul too points to the same conclusion, in his Epistle to the Galatians:

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

Gal 5,17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal 5,17;


Just like “nephesh”, the soul, so too the Hebrew term for spirit “ruach” (“pneuma” in Greek) can be used in a number of different ways. The first association is with air, wind, breath (the breath of life), and so in a transferred sense we find the meaning “spirit”. We already have a nice illustration of this in Job 33,4:


Job 33,4 The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33, 4;


And it was this “breath” of the Almighty, too, that made the first man, Adam, to become a living being.

And man became a living being.

Gen 2,7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Gen 2, 7;


And this is precisely the scriptural passage (Gen 2,7) to which Paul refers, in the passage below (1Cor 15,45). Whereas the first man, Adam, through the action of the breath of God became a living soul, the “last Adam”, the Lord Jesus that is, has become a life-giving spirit.

The first man, Adam, became a living soul.

1Cor 15,45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,45 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,45-49;


And as this life-giving spirit, too, the Lord Jesus, after He died, went and preached the gospel to the spirits of the dead in the realm of the dead (see above, 1Pet 3,18-19), so that they also - who, by contrast with humanity after the death of Jesus had heard nothing about it - might have the chance of being converted; and so that not a single one of them who should call on the love and forgiveness of God might be lost.

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.

Jn 7,38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’" 7,39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Jn 7,38-39;

But the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

Rom 8,5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 8,6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, Rom 8, 5- 6;



Summary.

As a result of our analysis, we are now in a position to make the following statements:

o   According to the Scriptures, there is no such thing as the immortality of the soul, seeing that the soul dissolves on the death of the human being (flesh, blood).

o   The “total death” theory is incorrect, on the grounds that the Scriptures speak of a realm of the dead, where the Lord after his death preached the gospel to the dead; so this place, consequently, has to be inhabited by somebody (and the obvious assumption is that it is inhabited by the dead).

o   There are two more or less opposed forces dwelling within the human being:

- the soul (Hebrew nephesh, Greek psyche): i.e. the flesh, the blood, but also the human being or person, which perishes after death; and

- the spirit (Hebrew ruach, Greek pneuma): i.e. air, wind, breath (breath of life) but also the spirit, which after death leaves the body - probably through the nose (Gen 2:7) - and continues to exist.

0

The body with its soul without spirit is dead (Jas 2:26; Ps 104,29) therefore flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 15:50).

o   It follows that it is likewise this spirit of the human being - and not his soul - which after death enters the realm of the dead and awaits the Resurrection.




And so has "all humanity’s hankering after eternity" as H.J. Twisselman is referring to in the passage of his book quoted at the beginning by all means its justification.

(See also Excursus 07: “The resurrection body.”:)




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Can the soul not be killed? / Commentary KHF 00, 2016-02-03)

(…) Your argument in this article (Discourse 22, FH), that body and soul disolve and only the spirit survives and continues to exist, is as always very convincing, and I would certainly be inclined to go along with it, if it were not for a scriptural passage which states exactly the opposite, namely Matthew 10,28:

Mat 10,28 Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

These murderers, then, can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But doesn’t this mean that the soul continues to exist after death? Seeing that this is a statement made by our Lord Jesus Christ, we can’t just ignore it. I would be happy to hear what you have to say on this.
Best wishes,
KHF


Thank you for your visit to Immanuel.at, and for your comments!

Just to get it out of the way at once – Yes, you are right! That seems to be a direct contradiction of my statements above. And it is also an utterance made by our Lord, as you again quite rightly say, so this question undoubtedly needs to be clarified. But at the same time, it is not the only biblical passage of this kind which calls for investigation. We find other passages in Revelation which in my view need to be taken into account in connection with this issue. First of all, Rev 6,9, where we find a mention of the souls of the martyrs, whom John sees “underneath the altar”:

I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain.

Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; Rev 6,9;


These Christian faithful have been killed “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained”, so it follows from this that they are martyrs. And if we now look into the question where these martyrs have come from, we find that they can only have been raised up (not resurrected!) in the Rapture (not in the First Resurrection!) along with the other dead faithful, and so have been raptured along with those Christians who are still alive. And for that reason it is actually very surprising that these other brethren – who have not, after all, been killed for their faith (the “great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues”, Rev 7:9, 14), should already be serving in heaven before the throne of God, whereas these martyrs are still “underneath the altar”. So clearly after the Rapture a separation has taken place: the martyrs underneath the altar, the other faithful “in Christ” before the throne of God.

(See also Discourse 03: “The fate of the cursed: eternal torment or dissolution?”)


In the next verse these martyrs complain to God, asking why he has not yet avenged them on their murderers on earth.

Until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

Rev 6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6,10-11;


These fellow servants for whom they are told to wait, then, are martyrs likewise. These are evidently those of the faithful who refuse in the time of the Second Antichrist to worship the image of the beast (Rev 13:15) and have been killed for that reason. And the statement that these first martyrs still have to wait for their fellow servants gives us further confirmation that in this passage (Rev 6,8-11) we have not yet reached the time of the Second Antichrist, but are still at the end of the dominion of the First Antichrist. And this actually constitutes an additional proof that the two passages in fact belong together, both of them having to do with martyrs who have been put to death on account of their faith (“because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained”).

(See also Discourse 05: “The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7.”)


But we have another biblical passage which gives us information about the souls of these martyrs. It relates to that event at the end of Last Days and directly preceding the Millennium, in which these martyrs rise and "come to life", namely the First Resurrection. This brings together the martyrs from both of the two texts above: first of all those from the Rapture, who have been killed because of the word of God and their testimony; and then their fellow servants from the time of the second Antichrist, for whom they have had to wait and who have not worshiped the beast or his image and have not received his mark on their forehead and on their hand.

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20,4-6;

(See also Chapter 12: “The First Resurrection – the martyrs come to life again.”)


So this is the First Resurrection. And those who rise here – come to life, that is – are the martyrs of all time, from Old Testament times, New Testament times and the Last Days (Rev 14:13). These resurrected martyrs will reign in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace of the Son of God, as priests of God together with him. Although their life has been cut short by a few years because of their faith, in compensation they will now be given a thousand years of additional life in which they can serve God. .

Now that we have succeeded in clarifying these statements about the souls of the martyrs in the context of the biblical sequence of events, we can return to our starting point, the reader’s comment quoted above – where our visitor writes that the Lord’s statement in Mt 10,28 speaks of the fact that the soul cannot be killed, and therefore must continue to exist.

Mt 10,28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Mt 10,28;


If we now take a closer look at this text, we notice that the Lord speaks here to the disciples about those "who kill the body". This means that here too the Lord is speaking about – and also addressing – martyrs or potential martyrs, whom he encourages not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul. And this now also gives’us the answer to the question of the commentator quoted above – "But doesn’t this mean that the soul continues to exist after death?"

It is the souls of the martyrs – and only the martyrs – that cannot be killed for now, because these brethren who have been killed on account of their faith have not yet completed their earthly life. They will come to life again in the First Resurrection, and reign with Christ in the Millennium, the last thousand years of this first creation, as priests of the world.

In the same way as King David will be brought back to life by God and will be a prince in Israel for a thousand years (Jer 30:8-9), so too these martyrs will be physically brought back to life in the First Resurrection and will rule over nations and languages. The souls of all other human beings who have not been killed because of their faith (both believers and unbelievers) will die in just the same way as the souls (blood) of all warm-blooded animals perish along with the body at the time of death

For the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh.

Deut 12,23 "Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life (soul), and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 20,24 "You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. 20,25 "You shall not eat it, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you, for you will be doing what is right in the sight of the LORD. Deut 12,23-25;

Flesh and blood (soul) cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

1Cor 15,50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood (soul) cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1Cor 15,50;


So according to the Bible this orderly arrangement in the creation of God, whereby certain souls cannot be annihilated for the time being, relates exclusively to the souls of those faithful who have been killed on account of their faith. They will come to life again in the First Resurrection (not already in the Rapture, like all other believers) with their body of flesh and will live for a thousand years (the age of human beings before the Flood) in the Kingdom of Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Their souls must be retained because the soul contains information about the body (physical form) and mobility (physical behavior) of the human being, which will be materialized in the First Resurrection of these martyrs. This is similar to the way in which the spirit harbors information about the thinking (character) and actions (deeds) of the human being, which will then be integrated with a new body (the resurrection body) in the General Resurrection.

All other believers, however, who have died a normal death and have been brought to life in the Rapture, to be raptured to the Lord in heaven with those faithful who are still living, are already in heaven during these thousand years of the Kingdom of Peace, before the throne of God (Rev 7:14-15).



The Catholic dogma of the immortality of the soul.

Now we may well ask how it was possible for this kind of doctrine of the “immortality of the soul” to establish itself in Christendom at all, when the Bible has quite unambiguous statements to the contrary. Of course one reason for this is the special situation of the martyrs, which many biblical commentators in the past have either failed to recognize or have interpreted incorrectly.

But the origin of this doctrine seems to go back to Jewish roots, as an article on the website of the Deutsches Bibelstudien Institut [German Institute of Biblical Studies] documents very effectively.




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(How the doctrine of the immortality of the soul entered Christianity / Bibelstudien-Institut [Institute of Biblical Studies] 00, 2016-02-03)

In the Bible, the terms “immortal soul” and “immortality of the soul” do not appear at all. Nor did the Jews in the time of Jesus believe as yet in an immortal soul. “The first certain representative of belief in immortality, as far as we can see, was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (died ca. 80 AD).” (H. L. Strack / P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, Erläutert aus Talmud und Midrasch [Commentary on the New Testament, Explained on the Basis of the Talmud and Midrash], C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung [C. H. Beck Publishers Bookshop] 1926, 4th edition, vol. IV.2, p. 1131). Theologians from Justin the Martyr (2nd century AD) to Karl Barth have for this reason repeatedly pointed out that it is a heathen doctrine:

“If you have become acquainted with people who call themselves Christians, but nonetheless deny the Resurrection of the Dead and assert that their souls will be taken up into heaven immediately after death, do not believe their claim to be Christians.” (Justin, Dialog, LXXX, 3, 4, II. pp. 32-35).

In the second century after Christ, then, one of the leading Christian theologians – or to put it better, the oldest and most celebrated apologist of Christianity – stigmatized the doctrine of the immortality of the soul as a heathen belief. And other fathers of the church from this century (like Tatianos of Mesopotamia, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna) similarly rejected the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

But as a result of the influence of Greek philosophy, people were no longer able to imagine that the identity of the individual human being, along with his/her character, knowledge and personality, would be preserved by God at the time of death, to be given a new body in the Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. Consequently Christianity took over the Greek doctrine of souls, according to which the core of the personality supposedly does not die. Basically this amounted to skepticism of the omnipotence of God, who is able to reawaken to life even a person who has died in body, soul and spirit.

The Greek philosopher Plato (4th century BC) called the body “the prison of the soul”. Consequently he saw death as representing the soul’s liberation. In the third century, this viewpoint was adopted by Christian theologians. Prominent representatives were Athenagoras, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Augustine. But it was only in the 13th century that Thomas Aquinas developed this doctrine still further, and so created the basis for its being declared a dogma by the church.

“In the third century this Platonic teaching of the immortality of the soul penetrated the Catholic church, blended with the Christian belief in the resurrection, and was elevated to a dogma of the church at the 5th Lateran Council in 1515... Likewise the institution of masses for the dead and the teaching of purgatory is to be understood in this light.” (Osterloh-Engelland, Biblisch-Theologisches-Handwörterbuch [Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Theology], Göttingen, 1964, p. 626).

Bibelstudien-Institut.de



This article, which is actually entitled “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection?”, shows that neither the church fathers referred to, nor these authors from the Institute of Biblical Studies (among them such well known Protestant theologians as Emil Brunner, Oskar Cullmann, Ralf Luther and Karl Barth), hit upon the idea that the immortality of the soul and Resurrection are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And yet they would only have needed to take a look at the Bible’s report of the First Resurrection in the Revelation of John, where they could have found a biblical and accurate description of the two phenomena – Resurrection and resurrected souls – alongside one another:

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20,4-6;


This alone is a showcase example of the way in which false doctrines come into existence – as a result of superficial reading and thinking, and careless biblical research. Otherwise it would have been possible to establish on this basis that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, while it does not apply to the great majority of Christians, does still hold good when it comes to the martyrs of all time. So not only did people fail to grasp the implications of the First Resurrection correctly, when it came to the General Resurrection of all Christians they also confused the “medium” so to speak, attributing it not to the spirit but to the soul – a view that was subsequently rebutted (this time correctly) as an erroneous teaching.

Notwithstanding that, however, the above extract from this article does document the way in which this dogma of the Catholic church came into existence with great accuracy. And the last paragraph also contains a reference to the way in which the teaching of purgatory likewise derives from this dogma. This is a phenomenon that we often meet with, in the context of Catholic dogmatics – that one false teaching brings further false doctrines in its train.

Thus at the beginning of the 16th century the Dominican Johann Tetzel took the sale of indulgences to its apogee with his saying (based on the dogma of the immortality of the soul), “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!”, so swindling funds out of congregations for the building of St. Peter’s. And that points to another false doctrine of the Catholic church, namely that Christians supposedly go to heaven immediately after their death. In this connection there are a multitude of statements in the Bible about the kingdom of the dead, and the fact that the dead “rest” (Rev 6:9-11; Rev 14:12-13) or “sleep” (Mt 27:52; Acts 13:36; 1Cor 11:30; 1Cor 15:16-18) and are raised before the Resurrection – all of which have to be ignored or suppressed for it to be possible for people to postulate a doctrine of this kind, with an “ascension” of the soul right after the person’s death.

But the Catholic church continued piling up further false teachings on this false foundation – like the “assumption” of the Catholic Mary and the worship paid to her, and prayer to the Catholic “saints”. These too are false doctrines which rely on the same dogma. The real mother of our Lord is still sleeping in the kingdom of the dead, along with all other human beings – whether they are “saints” or fraudsters, like the Italian Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who inflicted his own “stigmata” with the help of corrosives and with by means of this trick collected millions in donations. In spite of this deception, the Catholic church quite recently declared him to be a saint on account of his “miracles”.

(See also Discourse 106: “The false teachings in the Christian congregations.”)



Distinguishing between the true religion and false religions.

As we can see, the driving force behind such false doctrines – in the Catholic church, at least – is always the greed for money and power. And even if deceptions of this kind can easily be unmasked when closely scrutinized in the light of the Bible, experience shows us that there is a much simpler way of detecting false religions and people whose behavior is fraudulent in the first place. There is an infallible sign for distinguishing between true, genuine Christianity on the one hand, and all false religions on the other.

True Christianity knows neither churches nor priests nor any other kind of clerical figures. For brethren at the start of their life of faith, perhaps, there are meetings of the congregation, where preachers expound and explain the Bible. But from a certain point in time, correctly believing Christians will come to realize that from now on they must study the Bible for themselves and on their own. This is the moment in which they really come to believe, and when God and our Lord Jesus Christ take up their abode in the spirit of the believer. From now on their teacher in spirit is the Holy Spirit, who gives them understanding of the word of God.

That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Jn 14,15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 14.16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 14,17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. 14,18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 14,19 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 14,20 "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 14,21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

14,22 Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?" 14,23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 14,24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. 14,25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding withE you. 14,26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teache you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Jn 14,,15-26;


This spirit of truth is something the world does not know, but even for the faithful the Spirit of God is not always accessible. Whenever the believer carries the burden of unforgiven sins, he or she has no access to the Holy Spirit, since the latter cannot act in conjunction with unforgiven sin in the spirit of the human being. Only if believers have asked God for forgiveness of their sins, in the name of the redeeming sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, can they be justified by grace and released from sin and so count on the help of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, the Spirit of God will only ever reveal what God wants to have revealed. And so, even for the correctly believing Christian, there will be many mysteries in the Bible which remain unresolved.

So this is the distinguishing mark of Christianity, the one true religion (Jn 14:6; Mt 28:18; Jn 3:35;Mt 11:27; 1Jn 5:12): no churches, no priests, no “masses” and no mass movements. No liturgies, no “habits” as in Mosaic Judaism, in Islam, Buddhism or Catholicism. No dietary prohibitions (apart from blood, and things strangled, Acts 15,29, because of the blood / the soul of the animal), and no prescribed rituals of any kind – like the five times daily prayer in Islam, making the sign of the cross and genuflecting before every wooden statue in a church and the pattering of prayers in Catholicism, Hinduism and so on.

One thing emerges very clearly: it is the external features of this behavior, exclusively put on for the admiration of an audience, by which false religions and their adherents can immediately be recognized. The correctly believing Christian does not need this kind of thing and is even completely without it. He or she encounters God not through any rituals or symbols but in a completely personal way, and it does not happen anywhere but in the spirit of the believer, not in any kind of public space (Mt 23:5-7; 6:2,5,16).

Here the passing on of information is not just of a linguistic nature – it is rather the case that the Spirit of God uses the information level of the human spirit, that of thoughts. And here there is no defined time scale, though there may well be an established form for the conveyance of ideas. Whenever a person, quite alone and in a calm and relaxed environment, thinks about a specific subject, the Holy Spirit may give him or her a thought for the resolution of this issue. The individual can then use this idea or reject it. It is up to the individual. But the Spirit of God is always very gentle and not insistent, so that many brethren – even if they find themselves for once in a peaceful environment – are not even aware of him at first. People of the world call this “inspiration”, a “visitation of the Muse” or a “flash of genius” when they happen to come to innovative insights, though it emanates from a different spirit.

Meeting up with correctly believing brethren – if they really are such – and the exchange of ideas in relation to the faith we share can no doubt be edifying, because then, of course, our Lord is there with us Mt 18:20). Unfortunately as things are today, contacts of this nature are increasingly being transposed to the internet and the social media, so that inevitably evangelization and biblical teaching as well have to be effected online. But correctly believing Christians are not going to have any kind of problem with this. They don’t have to know one another personally, because each of them has contact with God and so, through the Spirit, is connected with all of the brethren. And what God wants to communicate to his children (Gal 3:26) will be received by these brethren through the Holy Spirit – every individual in his or her own way, and at the time that is best for that particular person.


Gottfried Daniel Pomacher, a revival preacher from Wuppertal, took the same view when he stated:

"Christianity does not consist in words, but in the power of the Holy Spirit in the faithful. The pillars of the temple are not those whose public utterances of ‘Lord, Lord’ attract the admiration of those who hear them, but rather those who address their prayers to the Lord at home, in their inner room and without anyone listening. These are the true pillars of the congregation."



The eternal existence of every human being.


The eternal existence of every human being.

Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic sac of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is "born of water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5) – receives a human spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with eternal existence (Mt 25:46). In the first, temporal and earthly part of their existence – in their life, human beings have the possibility of deciding, in complete freedom, without any compulsion and with the help of the spirit given them by God, whether or not they will give this God, the creator of all life, their complete trust and entire love.

After death, the human body returns to the dust from which it was made (Gen 2:7), but their spirit goes to the Kingdom of the Dead (Dan 12:2; 1Pet 3:18-19; 1Cor 15:23-24), where they pass the time until their resurrection in a state resembling sleep (1Thess 4:15-16).

In the Resurrection (Rom 6:4-5), the "rebirth from the spirit" (Mt 19:28; 1Pet 3:18; Jn 3:7), human beings are again given a body (Mt 22:30; Jn 3:8; Rom 8:10-11), similar to that of the Son of God after his resurrection (Jn 20:26-27).

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1Cor 15,42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 15,43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15,44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul." (Gen 2,7) The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,42-49;

With this body the human being will then stand at the Last Judgment before the Son of God, who has been given the task by God (Jn 5:22, 26-27) of judging every human being on the basis of their earthly deeds and their decision for or against God while still alive (Rom 2:16).

Anyone who has decided for God and faith in his Son Jesus Christ in the course of his or her life (Jn 17:2-3) has the possibility of invoking before this court the expiatory death of the Son of God as a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, and so atoning for his or her own sins and derelictions against the law of God (Jn 3:16), and so will meet with the mercy of God (Jn 5:24). Those people who have not accepted this faith cannot have their sins forgiven them, and so they will be condemned (Jn 3:36).

After the Last Judgment these condemned persons will spend their eternal existence in the darkness (Mt 22:13) of the damnation of the eternal fire (Mt 18:8), with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:49-50) over the fact that they refused to come to faith while they were alive and have now come to realize that they can never again make up for it, and so cannot ever expect any further change in their condition.

Those who have been forgiven, on the other hand, will spend their eternal life (Mt 25:46) in the New Creation in the light of God on a new earth (Rev 20:11) and under a new sky created by God (Rev 21:1-3,5).

In the light of this, the well known evangelist and preacher Wilhelm Busch said to his hearers, “You don’t need to accept the message I am giving you. You can choose not to convert to Jesus. But just be aware that this means you are choosing hell! You have complete freedom - it’s your choice!” (Discourse 55)

(See also discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)



The principle of the eternal existence of human spirit.

The spirit of the human being given by God can - similarly to energy - take different forms of existence but it is not possible to create or to annihilate it.