Monday, November 25, 2013

Mortal Souls

Christians often evangelize by telling people that every human soul is eternal and that after we die we will continue to live in immortality. The only question, we suggest, is whether or not we will live forever with God in Heaven, or suffer forever in Hell.  But is this idea actually taught in the scriptures? I would say, no. Here’s why.

From the beginning, in the book of Genesis, why does God banish Adam and Eve from the Garden after they have sinned? He says it's so that they won't "eat of the Tree of Life and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)

So, apparently the only way that Adam and Eve would live forever is if they were to eat from the Tree of Life.

Remember, the punishment Adam and Eve received for eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? It was this: "You shall surely die" (Genesis 3:2)

Now, if death was the punishment for their sin, and if they were prevented from eating from the Tree of Life because to do so would be to "live forever", then are human souls inherently eternal?

I don’t think so. For example, Jesus says:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life..” (John 3:36)

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. “ (John 5:21)

Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” – (John 5:40)

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.” (John 6:47-48)

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – (John 10:10)

Paul and the other Apostles also affirm this idea that only those of us who are in Christ have life, and without Christ we have no life beyond this one:

"…your life is hidden in Christ" and "when Christ, who is your life, appears, you will appear with him also." (Colossians 3: 3-4)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)

Therefore, the evidence of scripture seems to overwhelmingly support the idea that only those who are in Christ will enjoy eternal life. Those without Christ, will not live forever but will, as Jesus warns us, “perish”. (See John 3:16)




Marshall said...

how much deeper the rabbit hole goes still... "soul" ψυχην by word definition is not an entity, it is an effect: the effect of a spirit within a body. without one or the other (spirit or body, together), there is no effect we would describe as a man's soul.
"His breath goes forth, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." [Psalm 146:4]

Craig Barnes said...

So true.
It took me 20years of teaching the scriptures to learn this.
I was also shocked to learn that many theologians know this, but for some reason it has yet to filter it's way down to the pulpit.
When God said "you shall surely die" He meant it.

the alternative1 said...

personally when I speak to anyone about the good news of Christ I don't even bring up the subject of where they will spend eternity except that if they want eternity with god jesus is the only way if not best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

OR; Death means 'separation from God, eternally'. Have you referenced the Hebrew to see what the original meaning of these words were. I know from experience how easy it is to get an idea and run with it only to find out, years later, that I missed one itsy bitsy but crucial piece of information that changed the whole picture. I 'feel' sure that you have done the same with this concept. You are making HUGE assumptions about the word usage in the translated English VERSION of the Bible. How can it be then, that the 'unsaved' will be sent to the lake of fire intended for the Devil and his followers. Hell, Hades, Gehenna and the Lake of Fire must not exist either then, right? The ripple effect of this one statement, or doctrine, goes all the way to even change the character of God. These are very touchy things to be saying. I can agree with you though, that it does SEEM to be saying what your saying, but I don't believe that was the original intent of those words. Best wishes to all. Thank God that we are all free will beings or we wouldn't even need to have discussions like this.

Keith Giles said...

The Hebrew for "life" means "Life".

But seriously, the article is a companion to the one I wrote right after this called "What About Hell?" which might answer some of your other questions.

About the "character of God" comment, I do agree. It suggests that He might be as loving and forgiving of His enemies as He commands us to be.

Just a thought...