[Darris McNeely] This week at BT Media we had a telephone call from a Protestant minister who reading a publication, a Christian publication, about the debate between people who believe in the resurrection of the body and those who believe in the immortality of the soul. He was surprised to find that there's such division on that. And it also challenged his long-held, cherished beliefs about man being an immortal soul, being born with eternal life in some form already within us that at death either goes up to heaven or down into an ever-burning hell fire.
In fact he came to realize as many people do who get into this subject that the teaching of the immortal soul is not found in the Bible, you can't even find these two words together, "immortal soul" as a phrase within scripture from Genesis to Revelation. It's just not there. What the Bible does show us about human life and what man is is really very simple, and yet very profound.
When you look in the Old Testament and you see what the word that is translated from the Hebrew as soul is the Hebrew word nephesh , and it merely means a living creature. In Genesis where it says that man became a living soul, he became a living, breathing creature just like in a sense a cow or any other beast of the field becomes a living, breathing creature although man is much higher than the animal realm and that's another subject.
In the New Testament the word that is translated soul is from the Greek and it's the word psuche , and it essentially means the same thing - that of a living creature. And so Christ said that you know fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell, which is God. He was saying that the body can be destroyed and that's exactly what both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach on this subject. Now you know what really does intrigue people when they get into the subject of immortality of the soul and what they are surprised to find is the fact that the teaching of what happens at death comes into play here because many people believe that at death you either go to heaven or you go to a place of hell, ever-burning hell fire and torment in that way because if you believe the immortality of the soul as a biblical teaching, then you've either got to put that body, that person at death either in heaven or in hell.
That's what it comes down to. I mean that is the tradition of the teaching of going back for centuries. But when you understand the truth of the biblical teaching of the resurrection and the hope of life, and essentially then what man is, is he's not an immortal soul, but he is born with the possibility of living forever in the family of God as a resurrected spirit being it opens a whole new area of understand, and it also gives great encouragement and comfort that loved ones, people are not suffering in torments forever and ever in an ever-burning hell fire.
This doctrine of the immortality of the soul is one of the most critical ones to understand from the Bible about what the nature of man is, and most importantly about what his future role is, and what his purpose and his great potential is and that is to be spiritually living forever in the family of God as resurrected beings at a future point in time. It's an encouraging and comforting hope. Don't be surprised if your long-held assumption about this subject or any others finds itself being, coming under the scrutiny of the Bible and lacking.
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