Death and the Soul - Part 2

Scripture: Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 18:20, Luke 8:52-55
What is a soul according to the Bible? Does it live on eternally and separately from the body? Genesis shows us where a soul comes from. A soul is a body plus the breath. We are living souls. The Bible teaches that soul (living person) who sins shall die. God alone is immortal.
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Yesterday we introduced the intriguing subject of life after death or what is a soul? What happens to an individual when death comes? This is a question that has perplexed people right down through the ages. What is the soul?

We're going back to Genesis 2:7 to get God's definition of a soul. Now friends, God knows. We may not know and understand it all, but He certainly has the answer for us. Notice this text. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now here's God's own definition of it, friends. Let no man think that he can improve on it. We might put it in a little formula like this: BODY + BREATH = SOUL. That's all there is to it. A body plus the breath of life and we no longer have a body and a breath but we have a combination known as a "soul." That's the first and general definition in the Bible concerning a soul. We are souls. I'm a soul. You're a soul. A living, walking, talking, living human being is a soul.

Now the word "soul" is used to mean two other things also in the Scripture. It's used in some cases to mean life itself. One example of this is Job 12:10. "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing." Well, of course, that's talking about life itself. And then the third definition, is the mind or the intellect. An example of soul being used this way is found in Psalm 139:14, "... and that my soul knoweth right well." So there you have three definitions. They mean almost the same thing. They've overlapped until there is a very little difference. It's easy to tell which is meant by the context. A few verses before and a few verses after and you can easily see which of the meanings is required.

Some people say, "Oh my, that confuses me." But, you know, friends, we don't need to be confused with it at all. It's a very common thing in the English language for a word to mean more than one thing. Take for example the word "air." It can mean several things. It can mean what we're breathing right now, that kind of air. It can mean the melody of a song. It can mean a person's bearing, we say sometimes, "he had a haughty air." All these three things, but we know what it means by how it's used in the sentence or paragraph. Now it's the same way with these three meanings of the word "soul." But it doesn't make any difference which definition you use. It takes a combination of two things to make that soul. It takes a body + breath. You have to have both of them or you will not have a soul regardless of which definition you want to use. It doesn't make any difference about that. If it means life, you must have body + breath. If it means intellect, you must have body + breath or you don't have the soul. The general usage in the Bible is a person, a personal being.

Now let me ask you a question and I really want you to answer to your own heart. If a body + the breath makes a living soul, then what happens to that soul if the breath is taken away? Well, it would die, that's exactly right. It's the truth. Now I know that many folk will almost start up in horror and say, "A soul die, why that's ridiculous! That's impossible! I've always heard that souls never die!" Yes, friends, I've heard the same thing all of my life as well, but let's see what God says about it. This is the important thing. It's not what man thinks; it's what God says. Listen to this in Ezekiel 18:20. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Die. Now, friends, if the soul was naturally immortal it could never die. But God says Himself, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." So on the authority of God's Word, souls do die after all.

Now let's review a little. We've covered some of this very quickly and I want to be sure that we're together. Point number one. The Spirit that returns to God when a man dies is the breath of life. Point number two. The breath or spirit of every person who dies whether he's evil or good, returns to God. Point number three. Body + breath = (or makes) a living soul, so we are souls. Point number four. Souls do die. Now I know that you have a question and I know what it is. You're saying, "I don't understand where the soul goes. What happens to it anyway?" Well, let's try to illustrate it friends. Supposing I had some boards here and some nails, two things, then I took these boards and with a hammer I drove the nails in and made a box. So boards + nails = a box. In the same way we have a body. We put the breath into that body and we get a soul. Now listen, friends, suppose I didn't want the box any longer so I took a hammer and pulled the nails out and put them in a little stack and I put the boards back down on the other side. What happened to the box? Well you say, it just isn't anymore. It ceases to exist. That's right, it takes the combination of those two things to make a box. When you take them apart, you don't have a box any longer. That's exactly right. Now listen, you have a body. You put in the breath and you have a soul. But suppose you take this breath away and just leave the body, my friends, you don't have a soul anymore, just as you didn't have a box any longer.

We could illustrate it the same with a light bulb. If I push the button, the electricity flows into that light bulb and you have a light as the result. Now if I subtract the electricity, I have only a bulb; there is no light. It works the same way once again with the soul. Breath and body, a combination of the two things, makes the soul. Separate one from the other and the soul no longer exists. Just remember that you must have those two things in combination or there is no such thing as a living soul. The Bible is exceedingly clear on that. If one is gone then the soul is no more. That's the way the Scripture regards it all the way through. It's wonderful to see the agreement of the Scripture and to see how one prophet agrees with another and one apostle agrees with another all the way through.

You remember the story in the New Testament in the book of Luke about Jairus. He was one of the rulers of the Jews, ruler of the synagogue. His little daughter was ill and so I suppose after he had tried a number of things, he finally sent across town and said to call the Master, Jesus, to come quickly. In fact he sent this word, "My little girl is sick unto death." And so they called Jesus and He started across the city but the crowds pressed around Him and He could hardly get through. He was delayed and finally the little girl died. So Jairus sent his messengers saying that it was too late, for Christ not to worry, that she had died. Well, Jesus ignored that completely and went on over to the home. He put out the professional mourners and went in and raised that girl to life. Did you ever notice what the Scripture record says about that, friends, in Luke 8:52-55. The Scripture says this, "And her spirit came again." What does it mean? Well, it means precisely what it says. When she died a few hours before or maybe even a few moments, her spirit, the Bible says, returned to God who gave it, her breath, in other words, as we discovered in our study yesterday. Now when Christ came and called her back to life, her breath came forth again when the hand of God touched that body and she got up and walked out.

Another example is the case of Jesus on the cross. You remember He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Luke 23:46. It's the same thing exactly. He knew that the breath returned to God. It would be given back to Him early Sunday morning when He was raised from the tomb. Steven, the first Christian martyr was stoned to death outside the city because he dared uphold the name of Jesus. And as he was dying, he said, "Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit." He understood the Bible doctrine that we are teaching right here because it was a doctrine that was taught from the beginning of creation. The spirit, or the breath, goes back heavenward when a man dies; it returns to God. So this is not a new thing at all. It was taught 3,000 years ago by the great prophet and singer in Israel, David. In Psalm 104:29, "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, (or breath) they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth." You see the same thing exactly, friends, and that was preached 3,000 years ago by David.

Now let's review a few facts again about the soul. Point number one. The word "soul" or the word translated "soul" is used 852 times in the Bible. Soul, not spirit, (we've talked about that earlier) that was 948 times, but here the word "soul" 852 times. Point number two. Never in any of these references is it given any existence apart from the body. Point number three. Never in any of those 852 references does it have any life or activity or knowledge or personality separated from the body. Point number four. Always in all of these references is the soul pictured as something that is short-lived, never is it deathless or immortal. The natural undying, immortal soul is absolutely unknown, dear friends, in the Scripture. It just isn't there, and with 852 opportunities all through the Bible, if the great men of God had something to say about an undying immortal soul, it seems strange that no one ever mentioned it. There's a reason, of course. The reason is that the soul is not undying or immortal.

Point number five. Never once in all the Word of God is it anywhere stated that the soul goes back to God. Now I've heard that repeated over and over again, maybe you have also, that your soul does return to God, but that's not in the Bible, it just isn't found there at all. Point number six. At death the soul ceases to exist. I put that in because it needs reemphasizing, friends. At death the soul ceases to exist until the combination is made again and the breath of life is put into that body once more in the resurrection. And then the individual will be resurrected and there will be life. Point number seven. Even the fish of the sea are called souls. The text is Revelation 16:3. You read it and as you read it and study it, you'll be aware of this fact, that anything that has a body + breath is a soul. That applies to animals, fish, birds, anything that has a body and is alive.

Now the question comes, "Then you say that man's soul is not immortal?" Well, no, I'm not saying it at all. I would rather have God say it. If you'll just read 1 Timothy 6:13 and 1 Timothy 6:16 you will understand for yourself because this is what it says: "I give thee charge in the sight of God ... Who only hath immortality." Man doesn't have it. God has it by nature. Man is mortal and subject to death. Now let me ask you something else in closing. Could words be put together that would be plainer than these? This text specifically says, "God ... only (only) hath immortality." No one else, not even the angels of heaven, "God ... only hath immortality." So once again I say, the immortal soul of man is simply just not in the Bible at all and the Bible teaches the very opposite.

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