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Posts tagged ‘Called to discipleship’

Demanding signs or denying yourself

Matthew 16:1-4

We have read in the account of the evangelist Matthew (chapter 16) how once again Jesus was tested and how the Sadducees and Pharisees expressed what many people today also want to see, namely signs of Jesus and/or signs of God.

The religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign from heaven. They wanted proof that Jesus was sent from God (Matthew 16:1). Today there are still many who doubt Jesus was sent by God. There are lots of people who have made Jesus into their god but still are not quite sure what to believe and for sure do not really follow him.

At the beginning of our era the Nazarene master teacher Jeshua was in the midst of the chosen people of God. They had enough scrolls with ancient writings from sent ones from God or prophets who told about the man who would come to save the world. The son of man Jeshua or Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and preached with astounding authority. It seemed not enough to come to see he was a special man with special gifts which could only come from the Most High God above all gods.  What more did they want?

For those who could see that preacher and miracle maker, many did not come to realise the Son of God was standing right in front of them. Today a lot of people still can not see who Jesus really is.

A member of a small country Missionary Baptist Church who calls himself

a regular guy, who loves God and God’s Word. {About Me}

got to see how Jesus was

not a shy retiring type of man who always spoke words designed to make everyone feel “included.” {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

and writes

He sometimes told it just as it was, without mincing words. He rebuked evil and demanded obedience. No one was excluded from following, but those who chose to do so found the company to be exclusive. {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

Jesus knew for what reason he was here on earth. He knew very well his chosen position and wanted to do God His Will instead of following his own will. Naturally in case Jesus would have been God than Jesus would always have done His own will. But Jesus knew he had to deny himself and asked the same of his followers. They too had to become one with him and one with his God, the God of Israel, Who is Only One God Who is One and God of gods.

Jesus was willing to give his life for others and required this too from those around him. Jesus said to his disciples and to the people around him

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” {Matthew 16:24}

Anyone who wants to call himself “Christian” should followChristJeshua the Messiah. We must know it is not so easy as many think because discipleship is costly. As followers of Christ Jesus we must deny ourself [set aside selfish interests], and “take up his cross (or his stake)” [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow him, which mean we have to believe in him and be conforming to his example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in him. That last bit may be not something we have to face in these times, but in several countries many believers still have to do, plus it can well be we shall have to face a time where it shall happen or that we shall be tested in very fearful circumstances.

After Jesus had died and had shown himself after his resurrection, the apostle Paul was ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the master Jesus. {Acts 21:13} His knowledge of Christ led Paul to reassess the ways of truly pleasing and serving God. His re-evaluation indicates the profound and lasting effect of his experience of the meaning of Christ on the way to Damascus some twenty years before (Gal 1:15–16; Acts 9:1–22). He therefore wrote

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. {Philippians 3:7}

What are the things you would not mind counting a loss or to consider as worthless for Christ, with the knowledge that Christ has shown you that what you once thought was valuable is worthless. We are surrounded with a lot of materials which seem to be very valuable, costing a lot. Lots of people give a lot of attention to what they have and like to show off their earthly goods. Today there is not so much interest in Jesus or in God.

For those who are interested in Jesus, the majority consider him to be God and do not see that he is the sent one and the anointed one from God (Moshiach; Mashiach; Messiah; Kristos or Christ). Jesus is anointed to be ‘King‘ in the Kingdom of God. This is a huge deal and a turning point for the disciples of which Peter recognised him as the Kristos or Christ and said

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” {Matthew 16:16}

Those who want to call themselves Christian should, like the apostles, grasp that Jeshua or Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, or recognise Jesus as the Kristos – Christ or Messiah and as the son of the Living God. At the same time they should try to come to live and to be like Christ and should take him as their foundation of the church (not Peter). Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 3:11 ,tells us:

“For other foundation can no man lay, then that is laid, which is”,

not Simon Peter, but Jesus Christ.

“No other foundation can man lay, but that which is”.

From the early Messianic writings we learn the disciples of Christ talked about the gatherings they had and of small groups or congregations that formed. Jesus wanted that people became united under him and would come together to congregate, to gather, to meet as brothers and sisters. At their meetings they had to learn about the Word of God, studying the Scriptures. That would be the best way to come to learn the truth and to have a thoroughly grounded faith. And the roots have to go deep and become strong. Therefore each member in the group has to help the others. One of the difficulties being not to focus any-more on the worldly goods and aspects but on the heavenly matters.

The biggest thing Jesus wants from us is….us. As we grow in faith we put what we think we want aside, and come to see what He wants. Ultimately we will come to desire the same for ourselves as He desires for us. {Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him}

To get to know what Jesus wants we have to read the gospels and learn from them. In a certain way it is also a matter of wanting to become a slave Of Jesus instead of being a slave of this world. When you want to call yourself a Christian you too should want to become a disciple, which means to be a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of Jeshua (Jesus Christ), making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28) but they had entered a lot of human teachings and rules in their teachings, like the contemporary churches also have done. The majority of so called Christian churches give more importance on human teachings and church doctrines instead of Biblical doctrines. As members of such churches people, like in the time of Jesus, are also confronted with the choice they should make.

The church in our Western capitalist society a is undergoing historical realignment. Until recently Christians have been divided mostly along denominational lines. But now Christian denominations are dividing within themselves between those who believe the Bible and those who do not.

Today we are confronted by the same choice the disciples of Jesus  and the people around Jesus had. We can either keep following those who keep to human doctrines and heathen rites or go for those who want to follow Jesus in all aspects. We can see that those who trust Scripture are now a remnant in many denominations. In some cases they are leaving their institutions behind because they can no longer participate in the disobedient course being taken by spiritually darkened leaders.

Our times are characterized by increasing scepticism towards God’s word and expanding secularism in every facet of life. As a result, biblical illiteracy is growing by leaps and bounds, and church participation is faltering.

We should know that Jesus should be our most important teacher, but that all the words of the other prophets are also of importance and that we, like Jesus, should always follow God’s Word and do the Will of God.

Though we can not be a direct disciple of Jesus, by his teachings, given to us by the Bible, we have enough instructions and guidance to become a real follower.

Christian discipleship is summed up in the Great Commission. After the resurrection and before Jesus ascended into heaven, the master teacher appeared one last time to his disciples (they were eleven in number at that time, since Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself). Christ had given such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as made their faith to triumph over doubts. He now solemnly commissioned the apostles and his ministers to go forth among all nations. This is the moment that he delivered the famous calling for disciples known as The Great Commission:

18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Amen. {Matthew 28:18-20}

Christian discipleship continued to grow when the followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem and Peter outlined criteria for selecting a twelfth disciple to replace Judas Iscariot. The Scripture says they drew lots and the lot fell to Matthias. These men, who had previously been disciples, or followers of Jesus, were now to become apostles, or messengers. Their intention was to spread the Word, and beginning with Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and indwelt them for the first time, they did! (See Acts 1 and 2.) The purpose of the church of Christ is to teach the words of Jesus and bring unbelievers to belief in Christ as their Lord and Saviour; baptizing them, and teaching them to lead other unbelievers to saving faith in Jesus. A Godly environment of each community or church is key to the good health and continued success of the congregation.

even when you are only with a few nothing should resist to come together in somebodies house, like the first Christians did. They gathered in private as well in public houses. We too still can hold a gathering in our own house or find a place to meet with others. No matter our nationality, gender or bloodline we can call others to join us in peace to study the Word of God and to praise the Most High. We should spread the message of Christ and get others to believe they should have faith in the sent one from God.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. {John 3:16-17 New International Version}.

We should show to others the one who can be a light for everybody. We can proof to them that when they together with us want to follow Jesus they don’t have to walk in darkness any more, because they will have the light that leads to life. {John 8:12}

Thanks to the faithfulness of those apostles, who clearly understood their role as messengers of Christ, we have their gospels and letters to go by. Later, when Paul was added to their number (by virtue of his Road to Damascus encounter with the risen Christ), he wrote letters to all the churches he helped create. These books and letters became part of the New Testament of God’s Word, and unlike those first disciples, we have all of Christ’s instructions at our fingertips!

Sharing the message of Jesus we can give everybody around us the opportunity to come to see that Jesus is the way to God and God’s ultimate means of revealing Himself to us.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. {Hebrews 1:3 New International Version}

We have Jesus now as our mediator between God and us. We need no other mediator between God and us. He is also our best high priest. For making “church” we all have to work together in the spirit of Christ. Our faith in Jesus and in his heavenly Father should be the fuel that keeps our aircraft of our life flying.

With faith, you are on the go, there is no stumbling block on the way. All mountains are made plains. {Understanding the power of faith}

United as brethren and sisters, as sons and daughters of God, you shall find you shall be able to accomplish more than on your own. Surrounded by big institutions or well-known denominational churches it demands courage to step out of them and to go for a smaller church or just for meeting with other people who prefer just to keep to the inspired and infallible Word of God. But be sure it pays to choose the right path and to believe in the sent of God who gave his life for sinful humanity.

Are you a person who wants more signs than the one God has given the world? Do you need other proofs that Jesus is the sent one from God, His only begotten son, who by giving his life brought salvation by paying the full ransom price?

Are you preferring to belong to the main churches which keep to human doctrines, feasts and rites, or do you prefer to follow Jesus and keep to the God given feasts and rituals?

Are you willing to keep following the world or willing to follow Jesus?

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Preceding

Ezekiel 18:4 – What the Bible teaches about Soul and Spirit

More than just a man with authority of speaking

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Matthew 9:32-34 – How others look at the blind, speechless and demoniac being healed

Matthew 9:35-38 – Looking at Jesus our shepherd

Matthew 10:24-31 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Do Not Fear – Preach!

Matthew 10:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: I Came to Cause Division

Matthew 12:46-50 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Family of Messiah

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 16:13-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

Matthew 16:21-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Think God’s Thoughts

Matthew 16:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Disciple Must Disown Self

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Additional reading

  1. Jehovah God Almighty greater than all gods
  2. What sort people of faith do we want to be
  3. Truth, doubt or blindness
  4. Knowing The Truth and Loving The Truth
  5. The true light in recorded words
  6. A Book to trust #2 Book of Truth
  7. A Book to trust #6 True God and true words
  8. Torah hanging on two commandments and focussing on a Mashiach
  9. Messianic prophesies 1 Adversary – Root of the first prophecy
  10. Messianic prophesies 2 Adversary – Root of the first prophecy
  11. Fog, brass and light for the eyes
  12. The Right One to follow and to worship
  13. Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special
  14. Concerning Christ #1 A god or the God, a son of man and son of God
  15. Concerning Christ #2 Divine source, connection and divine human being
  16. The sent one from God
  17. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  18. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  19. What Jesus did: First things first
  20. Necessity of a revelation of creation 3 Getting understanding by Word of God 1
  21. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian
  22. A call easy to understand
  23. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  24. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  25. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  26. Fellowship
  27. Seeds and weeds for being the greatest nation
  28. Americans their stars, pretension, God, Allah and end of times signs #2 War on God’s Plan, Name and title
  29. Jesus, A way given to find the right way to God
  30. Authority given to him To give eternal life
  31. Sayings of Jesus, what to believe and being or not of the devil
  32. That everyone may honour the Son and sent one from God
  33. Thought for Wednesday Believe in the one God has sent
  34. The saviour Jesus his human side
  35. Not being saved by faith in Christ alone
  36. Memorizing wonderfully 70: Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God
  37. The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #1
  38. The habitual misreading of John 1 and the ‘Word being God’ #2
  39. Memorizing wonderfully 42 Equality with God & doing nothing of himself
  40. Memorizing wonderfully 44 Showing the works from his Father
  41. Memorizing wonderfully 46 Believe in the sent one from God, who is the Way to God
  42. Memorizing wonderfully 49 John 17:1-11 The sent one from God and eternal life
  43. Memorizing wonderfully 52 Acts 7:56: the Son of man standing on the right hand of God
  44. Our life depending on faith
  45. Which is worse–works without faith, or faith without works?
  46. Beautiful feet of those who announce the good news
  47. An atoneless religious system or a hope giving religious system
  48. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  49. Christianity primarily a matter of imitation
  50. United people under Christ
  51. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  52. Jewish and Christian traditions of elders
  53. A House for God in our 21st century

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Related

  1. You are Invited
  2. The Set Up
  3. Sent by Christ; March 27, 2018
  4. 15th Sunday of the Year: Sent by God for work in the world.
  5. 15th Sunday of the Year: Called by God. Catholic Inspiration
  6. Are You Willing to Submit Your Will to God?
  7. Submitting Your Will to God Simplifies Your Life
  8. God First, Then Extras
  9. Discipleship
  10. Why Discipleship Weirds Me Out
  11. The Tree of Life: thoughts on discipleship and roots
  12. “Evangelism” or “telling God’s story”?
  13. A Worthy Life
  14. Out of the Abundance of the Heart
  15. Saved, healed and delivered
  16. Grasping the Gospel
  17. Get Down With the Program, Preacher!
  18. When Process Stops So Progress Can Happen
  19. The Theology of Jesus: Part 9 Ecclesiology
  20. Christ Is The Light Of The World.
  21. Following Jesus
  22. Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ
  23. Lenten readings – Christ is the way to the light – the truth and the life
  24. Follow, Carry the Cross

Matthew 16:13-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

Matthew 16:13-20 – Building a Hades-Proof Congregation

|| Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

MT16:13 Upon arriving in the area of Caesarea Philippi[1] Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do people say[2] the Son of Humankind is?” MT16:14 The disciples answered, “Some: John the Baptist;[3] others: Elijah;[4] still others: Jeremiah[5] or one of the prophets.” MT16:15 Jesus asked them, “But, you [disciples], who do you think me to be?”[6] MT16:16 Simon Peter responded, “You are the Messiah,[7] the Son of The Living God!”[8] MT16:17 Jesus replied to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah,[9] because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you,[10] rather it was my heavenly Father. MT16:18 And so I tell you: You are Peter[11] and upon this rock[12] I will build my Church[13] and the gates of Hades[14] will never triumph[15] over it! MT16:19 I will give you[16] [Peter] the keys of the Realm[17] of Heaven. What ever you [Peter] bind on earth[18] will be bound[19] in heaven, and whatever you release[20] upon earth will be released in heaven.” MT16:20 Then Jesus gave the disciples a rebuke[21] so that they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.[22]

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[1] Caesarea Philippi: After 70 AD, General Titus held gladiatorial shows here. He used captured Jews as victims [The Jewish War, VII, 23, 24 (ii, 1)]. The name was changed (after 70 AD) to its older name Paneas. In Arabic this became Banyas. The use of Caesar Philippi would argue the Gospel of Matthew would have had to be written before 70 AD. See the book The Jesus Papyrus. Josephus describes a deep cave filled with still water that is the spring source of the Jordan river. It was turned into royal gardens.

[2] Whom do people say: What is the talk or gossip among the crowds? The time has approached for Jesus to begin to declare himself more clearly to his disciples.

[3] John the Baptist: Compare Matthew 14:2 and Luke 9:7. Herod thought John so great he may well return from the dead.

[4] Elijah: Jesus is to explain this later. Compare Malachi 4:5.

[5] Jeremiah: Some Jews thought Jeremiah had taken the Ark of the Covenant and hid it on Mount Nebo. Tradition had it before Messiah appeared Jeremiah would return with the Ark (See 2 Maccabees 2:1-12; 2 Esdras 2:18).

[6] Who do you think me to be: After more than a year or two of association with Jesus he asks for their opinion as to his identity. Peter speaks for the apostles.

[7] You are the Messiah: Or, the Christ, that is, The Christened (Anointed) One. Likely the original in Hebrew would have been Ma·shi’ach. This designation is drawn from Psalm 2:1, Isaiah 61:1, and Daniel 9:26.

[8] The Son of The Living God: Nowhere does Peter suspect that Jesus was God Himself. Everywhere he is the “Son of The God” – the same conclusion reached by John 20:31. Peter writes later about a further confirmation of the Sonship of Christ (2 Peter 1:17). The idea of God’s Son is drawn largely from Psalm 2:6, 7 and Psalm 89:26 (Compare 2 Samuel 7:14).

[9] Simon Bar-jonah: Or, Son of Jonah. The “Bar” in place of “Ben” hints to an Aramaic original. Peter’s full name in Aramaic. “Simon” is related to the Hebrew root “hear” or “listen.”

[10] Reveal this to you: The Greek for “reveal” is APECALYPSEN. This could have been revealed to Peter by understanding, for example, Psalm 2:1, 7 (a text he later quotes in Acts 4:24f) where the Christ is also the Son of God. Additionally, he had been eyewitness to the miracles of Jesus.

[11] You are Peter: The Greek is the masculine “Rock.” Or, NEB: Peter, the Rock; TCNT: Peter, a rock.

[12] This rock: Or, TCNT: Your name is Peter, a rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church; WMS: your name from now on is to be Peter, Rock, and on a massive rock like this I will build my Church; MON: you are Petros (a rock), and on this petra (rock) I will build my church. The Greek has PETRA here, the feminine of Petros. Some view this as Peter (Barclay), other’s Christ (Augustine). The Catholic view is that the Church would be built upon the rock Peter. Some Protestants make much of the masculine and feminine differences of the two words (PETROS, PETRA). However, the context seems directed at Peter in these verses; and, the facts in Acts indicate Peter’s prominence in presenting the Evangel to first the Jews, then the Samaritans, and, finally, the Non-Jews (Galatians 2:7).

[13] I will build my Church: The Greek ECCLESIA is recognizable throughout Europe as the word for a “church.” Some render it “congregation” or “assembly.” The word means EK(=out)KALEO(=call). The old Scottish word “church” is from KIRK an Anglicization of the Greek KYRIOS (Lord).

[14] The gates of Hades: Research the word HADES for details. Or, KJV: hell; GDSP: powers of death; LAM: doors of Sheol. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-55.

[15] Never triumph: Or, KJV: no prevail; GDSP: not subdue; WMS: never overthrow; WEY: no triumph over.

[16] I will give you: The Greek “you” is singular and refers to Peter. Note the immediate context is the rock upon which Jesus will build his Church.

[17] The keys of the Realm: Not the keys of heaven as in the mistaken traditional picture. Rather, it refers to the door into the Church, or the realm of profession. Some take these keys as three in number and reference their use in Acts chapters 2, 8, and 10 – the Jews, Samaritans, and Non-Jews as the first members of the church or kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13).

[18] What ever you [Peter] bind on earth: An example of this is seen in the cases of the lying materialists Ananias and Sapphira (Acts chapter 5).

[19] Bound: Or, KJV: bind; RIEU: forbid; MOF: prohibit.

[20] Release: Or, KJV: loose; RIEU: allow; MOF: permit; TCNT: allow. Compare John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18.

[21] A rebuke: Or, KJV: strictly charged; KNX: strictly forbade; BECK: warned; NEB: strict orders. It is not a mere suggestion. Another rebuke, even more stern, is about to happen.

[22] Tell no one that he was the Messiah: Though the disciples understand the fundamental truth that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God they still do not comprehend other prophetic truths which will now be explained. The Nazarene wanted people to arrive at their own conclusions without a public proclamation. The disciples were not yet ready to explain all that being the Messiah meant as the account goes on to demonstrate in Peter’s case. Jesus gives this warning several times (Matthew 8:4; Mark 7:36; 8:30; 9:9; Luke 5:14; 8:56; 9:21)..

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Preceding

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 2:16-18 – Slaughter of the Innocents

Matthew 13:44 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Treasure

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Additional reading

  1. A rich history of ancient and Biblical Jordan to explore
  2. Self inflicted misery #4 To whom to listen
  3. Self inflicted misery #5 A prophet without a hedge around him
  4. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #16 Prophet to be heard
  6. The saviour Jesus his human side
  7. Marriage of Jesus 8 Wife of Yahweh
  8. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  9. Servant of his Father
  10. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  11. United people under Christ
  12. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  13. Congregation – Congregatie
  14. Meeting – Vergadering
  15. Democratic principles for the church of today
  16. Intentions of an Ecclesia

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Related

  1. A sheep or not a sheep?
  2. Do You love Me?
  3. Ministry of Congregating
  4. All you, people
  5. In the Congregation
  6. Church?
  7. Bearing Witness
  8. DNA in a Congregation
  9. The Beauty of “The Church”
  10. Counting the cost: Mark 14
  11. Study | Church Beginnings
  12. 1A. Called To Be a Disciple
  13. 3. Confessed Jesus To Be the Christ
  14. Fact vs Fiction: Who was the Apostle Peter?
  15. Simon Called Peter
  16. Jesus Commissions Peter
  17. Peter the First Pope?
  18. Simon Peter and Pope Peter the same?
  19. The ‘Simon Peter’ Paradox
  20. Simon Peter is Cool
  21. 1B. Appointed To Be an Apostle
  22. Michael Kok: Hinderance to Petrine Authorship of 1 Peter
  23. The Calling and Ministry of Peter – A Night of Worship/Illustrated Sermon
  24. Study | Experiencing Glory

Ezekiel 18:4 – What the Bible teaches about Soul and Spirit

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies.

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression immortal soul,sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“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.”

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read,

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22).

Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast

“have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says

“let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10,

“… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh.

“There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10).

If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God:

“Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this.

(1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says

“As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.”

(2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God

“let this child’s soul come into him again.”

In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman,

“her soul is vexed in her.”

Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].”

This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life.

“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35).

“I lay down my life (John 10:17).

“They seek my life (Romans 11:3),

and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43,

“fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus

“now is my soul troubled.”

Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17,

“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In Ezekiel 18:4 God said,

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.”

This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that

“in Adam all die,”

adding to this,

“even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

And again,

“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22).

The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he

“poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are

“beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18).

Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die.

“It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying,

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna]” (Matthew 10:28).

Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38

Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’

Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything.

“The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that

“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time,

‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9).

‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2).

In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die.

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead.

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).

“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body.

“The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale.

“There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

——-

Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

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Preceding articles

Matthew 11:20-24 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 5 Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 2

 

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Additional reading

  1. Concerning Man
  2. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3
  3. Creation of the earth and man #9 Formation of man #1 Cure of souls
  4. Creation of the earth and man #10 Formation of man #2 Mortal bodies and Tartarian habitation
  5. Creation of the earth and man #12 Formation of man #4 Constitution of man
  6. Creation of the earth and man #14 Formation of man #6 The Uncreated One, neshemet ruach chayim and nephesh
  7. An openingschapter explaining why things are like they are and why we may have hope for better things
  8. Bereshith 3 Fall of man
  9. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #4 The Fall
  10. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #5 Temptation, assault and curse
  11. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #8 Looking for the 2nd Adam
  12. What is life?
  13. Death
  14. Grave, tomb, sepulchre – graf, begraafplaats, rustplaats, sepulcrum
  15. Today’s thought “Death by being taken captive” (May 15)
  16. Is there an Immortal soul
  17. The Soul not a ghost
  18. The Soul confronted with Death
  19. What happens when we die?
  20. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  21. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #1 Intro
  22. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #2 Psyche, the word
  23. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #3 Historical background
  24. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #4 Psyche, According to the Holy Scriptures
  25. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #5 Mortality of man and mortality of the spirit
  26. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  27. Mortal Soul and Mortal Psyche #6 Summary
  28. Sheol, Sheool, Sjeool, Hades, Hell, Grave, Tomb, Sepulchre
  29. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  30. Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual
  31. A Ransom for all 1 Eternal tormentAll Souls’ DayI Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell

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Is it true that all Non-Christians today will go to hell

Related

  1. What is the human soul?
  2. On Plotinus and immortality
  3. The dreams of the Manichees and of Servetus, as to the origin of the soul, refuted
  4. It were vain to seek a definition of the soul from philosophers, not one of whom, with the exception of Plato, distinctly maintained its immortality
  5. Duty of Preparing for the Future World: Immortality and Separate State of the Soul: Book Eight- Chapter 1
  6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints
  7. This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul
  8. Is the human soul mortal or immortal?
  9. Immortal Soul
  10. River myths and the soul
  11. Secret Principles of Immortality, Edition 25
  12. All Soul’s Day, All Saint’s Day, and Day of the Dead
  13. Are there degrees of punishment in hell?
  14. J. W. Hanson on Gehenna
  15. There Is No Hell, Look It Up
  16. Are Near Death Experiences or Out of Body Experiences Biblical?
  17. Fantastic Article Proving that Hell = Complete Annihilation, Not Eternal Torment

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