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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

Different approach in organisation of services #1

Based in a Catholic country

The Belgian Bible Students and the Belgian Free Christadelphians both started a new year like the Catholic Church in Belgium and the schools, universities and clubs started a new year.

For the Catholic Church and for us there is the promise to the young girl Miriam (Mary/Maria) which let us look at the beginning of a new era, the time of salvation at hand. We, in contrast with our brethren and sisters from the Central Fellowship, like the CBM and CIL Christadelphians, start already now with reading about the Glad Tidings and the beginnings of the New Testament. The members of the Belgian Free Christadelphians in their ecclesiae follow the Bible Reading Plan by Robert Roberts and start only on the 1st of January with Genesis 1 & 2 plus Matthew 1 & 2.

Because there are so many Catholics in this country we like to show them from their readings, their religious year readings, what the Bible really says. Because every year they choose an other Gospel author as their main writer which they will follow, we also do take that writer his writings to put in the spotlight. It is a matter of coming closer to them and to have a better play on the ball with their readings and their traditions.

Different traditions

About those traditions, the Bible Students and several Amended Christadelphians may have a different feeling, because some Central Christadelphians join the pagan Christian festival and celebrate Christmas and Boxing Day. For us the real birth of Christ,on the 17th of October 4BCE is an other good reason to start in September/October with the new ‘church year’. But we do have to abstain from the pagan based holidays, like Christmas and the Catholic and some Protestants their Easter. The Easter we do have to celebrate and which the Free Christadelphians in Belgium also keep to is the remembrance day installed by Jesus Christ before he was going to die, on the 14th of Nisan.
Like the Belgian Catholics we may find that there is a time of advent in the Autumn, a preparation time to receive and celebrate the Good News of the one who brought us the Kingdom of God. Last year we looked at Luke and this year we shall therefore have a closer look to the Book of Matthew, the 1st book of the New Testament. There are more allusions to the Old Testament in this Gospel than in the others. It was clearly written for Jewish Christians, the purpose being to prove that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament and therefore it is also a very good book to introduce to those who do not know Jesus or to those who have a wrong view of this Nazarene man.

This year the Free Christadelphians in Belgium, like us, looked back at the awful year they had, and showed their good spirit to stand up again and to go forwards through the breakers which dash against our coast. The ecclesia Brussel-Leuven also found it wise to give an idea how the Christadelphian movement came into being and how it developed.

In the Gospel of Matthew is written how the Lord Jesus himself announced the work of Harvest of the Gospel Age.

“Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”” (Matthew 13:30 NIV)

Adolf Daens, Flemish Jesuit priest from Aalst who is especially known for his socio-political involvement after he joined the diocesan clergy. He created the Daensist movement from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Adolf Daens (1839–1907) Flemish priest from Aalst. Daens was a Jesuit from 1859 to 1871 but is especially known for his socio-political involvement after he joined the diocesan clergy. He created the Daensist movement from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. The Christene Volkspartij forced the radicalisation and democratisation of the Catholic party.

Sowing the seeds in the 19° century

Dr. John Thomas (1805–1871) founder of the Christadelphian movement, a Restorationist religion with doctrines similar in part to some 16th-century Antitrinitarian Rationalist Socinians and the 16th-century Swiss-German pacifist Anabaptists. - Dr. John Thomas (1805-1871) grondlegger van de Christadelphian beweging, een herstellers van religie groepering met doctrines vergelijkbaar voor een deel met een aantal 16e-eeuwse Antitrinitarische Rationalistische Socinianen en de 16e-eeuwse Duits-Zwitserse pacifistische wederdopers of Anabaptisten.

Dr. John Thomas (1805–1871) founder of the Christadelphian movement, a Restorationist religion with doctrines similar in part to some 16th-century Antitrinitarian Rationalist Socinians and the 16th-century Swiss-German pacifist Anabaptists.

Brother John Thomas in the 19° century tried to sow the seeds. He found many listening ears. One of them was Brother Charles Taze Russell who visited Antwerp and Brussels in 1891. Already at that time the fresh new country seemed to struggle with the Gospel Faith. The Roman Catholic Church was a very strong bastion with her hand in the political system and favouring the rich instead of helping the poor, priest Adolf and his brother Pieter Daens, or Pie Donsj for those from Aalst, an exception.

Brother Charles met there a Christendom that was ignorant of biblical truth. The fear of the clergy and of the fire of hell, doctrine that has no foundation in the Scripture, kept people away from opening the Bible.  But the Catholic Church had taken care that the people would not come to see the truth, by forbidding them to read the Bible. Mass was done in Latin and the readings as such, in that language, did not say so much to the people, who had not studied enough to get to know Latin and Greek.

The Bible translations in Dutch, French or German were forbidden and blacklisted.

Walloon grocery and mining

Because there was so much French spoken Russell did find it a good idea to have a modest Swiss forestry worker named Adolphe Weber to proclaim “the good news of great joy” in the French speaking countries of Europe. Adolphe Weber began the translation in French of books of the “present truth” and published in Swiss, French and Belgian daily newspapers advertisements referring to the first volume of the studies in the Scriptures and some booklets.

Location in the municipality of Charleroi

Jumet is a section of the Belgian town of Charleroi within the Walloon region in the province of Hainaut. It was a commune of its own before the merger of the communes in 1977. – Location in the municipality of Charleroi

In 1901, a grocer named Jean-Baptiste Tilmant (father) working in Jumet-Gohissart, city located near Charleroi, answered one of these advertisements and asked for some literature. As a result, a small group of bible students started meetings at his house in 1902 and used material from Russell.

Urged by his desire to know more about the truth, Jean-Baptiste Tilmant wrote to the Swiss brother asking to receive more information. As an answer to his demand, Brother Weber came to Charleroi during his missionary tour, to strengthen the faith of this small group.
In 1903, the periodical “lighthouse of Zion Tower” was published in French for the first time. The light of truth began to
shine so brightly in this mining area. Indeed, each Sunday morning, a small group of Biblestudentsastheywerecalledat the time, were going “in the fields” to sow the seeds of truth contained in this eight pages periodical; they waited for instance at the exit of churches. That is how the two first editions of “Zion’s Watch Tower” were largely distributed.

Borderareas

The Borinage is an area in the Walloon province of Hainaut in Belgium

The small group of Jumet Gohissart pushed away the limits of its territory to the south in the French part of the country. Some time later, the truth of God’s Kingdom also expended among the Flemish population.

In the month of august 1904, ten years before the First World War, these brave messengers of the Good News went to Denain in France, to offer booklets to people getting out from a Baptist temple. In Belgium and France the non-trinitarian Baptists mostly were not openly known, because of the fear of persecution.
The results of their activity was that two years later, a congregation started near Denain in Haveluy.
Jean Baptiste Tilmant and his friends continued to bravely preach the biblical truth and other groups appeared to face this big growth, a deposit of books was opened at brother’s Tilmant house in Jumet Gohisart and in 1906 a bible student community was founded in Denain.
The “Lighthouse” of August 1904, page 64, mentions for the first time the name and books from “Dawn”; (It has to be Volume I of the Studies in the Scriptures); subscriptions to the “Lighthouse” and request for free booklets and papers.
In 1906 the leaflets “Do you Know?” and the “Wage of sin” two other booklets and Volume 1 were to be published in Dutch and delivered in Brussels.
In 1908 Heinrich Brinkhoff published the first edition of The Watchtower in Dutch: De Wachttoren

Throwing pearls to pigs

Around 1910, François Caré who had known the truth in France went to Liège to a protestant friend named Edouard Verdière. He could not help it speaking with him about the truth. He wanted to help him leaving the false religion. His friend was so opposed to the message of brother Caré that at the end he finished by telling him
“ I don’t want to argue with you any longer , I don’t want to throw pearls to pigs “
After these words, he went to bed , these words bothered Mr Verdière all night long. The next morning, he asked brother Caré to tell him what he meant. He told him that he will no longer speak about the truth to him because he did not appreciate the “pearls” he was offering him. After this explanation, his friend became more conciliating so that after his return to France brother Caré started to send him regularly periodicals. He also dispatched a few volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. It did not last long before Edouard Verdière accepted the Truth and even began to speak in public. In another district of Belgium, light began to break through the darkness.

From Catholicism to Protestantism to coming in the Truth

The Rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning “Crown of Roses” or “garland of roses” , in its most commonly known format as the Dominican rosary, is a form of prayer used especially in the Catholic Church or a string of prayer beads used to count the component prayers

In the coalmine where he worked, Edouard Verdière had a colleague named Léonard Smets searching the truth. He was a sincere catholic; he diligently attended religious services with his family. He used to pray with a rosary. This man from Flemish origin lived in Heure-le Romain near Vivegnis (Liège). In 1900, a protestant offered him a Bible saying, “I have the Book of God”. Another day, at the confessional, Léonard Smets confessed to the priest that he was reading the Holy Scriptures. The priest said that if he still wanted to receive absolution for his sins he had to give back his Bible. From that day on, Léonard did not attend the service any-more. He thought,

“If they are sincere, they will come to meet me, because they have to come and catch back the lost sheep”.
However, the priest never came to see him. Léonard Smets began to attend the protestant temple.
File:Collegiale-Thann-p1010106.jpg

A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church. – Traditional confessional in Saint-Thiébaut Church, Thann, France

Even on his working place, in the coalmine, Smets was reading the New Testament. One day, Vedière noticed it. He was curious to know which his religion was; he began to sing a protestant hymn. “I was protestant”, answered brother Verdière “but I have something better for you.” He offered him a copy of the “watchtower of Zion” and witnessed with all his strength of the truth. It happened in 1912. Léonard Smets did not keep this truth for himself; he shared it with a Flemish colleague named Joseph Poelmans, father of seven children. He was disillusioned by the teachings of  Catholicism and chose Protestantism. However when he read the periodical that Smets gave him, he recognised the accent of truth.

Later, the three coalminers Verdière, Smets and Poelmans questioned the protestant minister of religion of Herstal (Liège) about the doctrine of immortality, trinity and Hell. Instead of helping them, the pastor was very angry and threw them out. They realised he was not better than the catholic priest, so they decided to meet and to study the Scripture with the help of the books they received from France.
In 1908 5000 “watch Towers” were distributed in Belgium.
In 1911 Brother Russell could only stop for a few minutes in Liège where dear brethren Pétré and some others were waiting to greet him on the train: sister Miss Peerkings (an English sister living in Liège where she learned about the Truth) served as an translator. With the same train, Brother Russell arrived in Charleroi where he took the road to arrive in Denain in the evening.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869–1942), also known as "Judge" Rutherford, president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, who played a primary role in the organization and doctrinal development of Jehovah's Witnesses. - Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942), ook wel bekend als "Rechter" Rutherford, voorzitter van het Wachttorengenootschap, die een primaire rol in de organisatie en leerstellige ontwikkeling van Jehovah's Getuigen had.

Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869–1942), also known as “Judge” Rutherford, president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, who played a primary role in the organization and doctrinal development of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In 1912, there were seven municipalities: Haine-Saint-Paul, Flémalle-Haute, Engis, Amay, Ampsin, Liège and JumetGohissart. Each of these groups was organizing monthly meetings and was welcoming Brother Weber from the Swiss office for periodical visits.

At Pentecost on June 26th and 27th 1912 there was a a general meeting or their first general assembly in Jumet Gohissart.

Brother Rutherford was in Jumet on Monday 22nd September for a private meeting.

The group also grew strongly in the most northern part of France and in 1913 more than 1,000 people attended a lecture by Joseph Franklin Rutherford when he visited Denain. On August 31, 1913 70 Belgian supporters visited a conference in Paris where Russell was present.

+

To be continued: Different approach in organisation of services #2

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie: Andere aanpak in de organisatie van de diensten # 1

++

Please do find out more about the Christadelphians:

  1. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  2. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  3. Who are the Christadelphians
  4. What are Brothers in Christ
  5. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  6. Christadelphian people
  7. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  8. About the Belgian Free Christadelphians
  9. What Christadelphians teach
  10. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  11. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  12. 19° Century London Christadelphians
  13. Breathing and growing with no heir
  14. Commitment to Christian unity
  15.  Parts of the body of Christ
  16. What part of the Body am I?
  17. The Church, Body of Christ and remnant Israel synonymous
  18. United people under Christ
  19. Fellowship
  20. The Ecclesia
  21. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem
  22. The ecclesia or Christadelphian church
  23. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  24. Our ecclesia or Christadelphian-church
  25. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  26. An ecclesia in your neighbourhood
  27. Communion and day of worship
  28. Christadelphians today
  29. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  30. Who Celebrates Easter as Religious Holiday
  31. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  32. Harvest in Belgium
  33. Biblestudents & T.C.Russell
  34. About the Belgian Biblestudents
  35. What the Belgian Biblestudents believe
  • 37 “Theses” Nailed to the Front Door of the First Baptist, Evangelical, Protestant Church (blackchristiannews.com)
    Some may think that it is prestigiousto be invited to meet with the Pope and to go and actually meet with the Pope. But it is not. In fact, it is foolishness and dangerous. And it flies in the face of what we have learned from church history about the thousands of people whose bloodwas shed because they opposed false Catholic teachings. We believe that this is a Satanic attempt to soften up the true church of Christ so that the Pope can, in the future, gain influence over Baptists, Evangelicals, and Protestants, and get them toparticipate in doing things that are contrary to Christ and the Bible.Many scholars believe that the “Great Whore” of Revelation is the Catholic Church situated in Vatican City in Rome. According to Christian apologist Dave Hunt, “There is only one city on the earth which, in both historical and contemporary perspectives, passes every test John gives, including its identification as Mystery Babylon. That city is Rome, and more specifically, Vatican City…The first thing we are told about the woman is that she is a ‘whore’… Against only one other city in history could a charge of fornication be leveled. That city is Rome, and more specifically Vatican City.”
  • Event Transcript: Religion in Latin America (pewforum.org)
    Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 Latin American countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico).Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic. Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether.
  • Vatican lifts ban on married priests for Eastern Catholic churches in U.S., Canada, Australia… (catholicculture.org)
    The Vatican has lifted a longstandingbanonthe ordination of married men to the priesthood in the Eastern Catholic churches.The tradition and discipline of the Eastern churches allowsforthe ordination of married men to the priesthood. (Bishopsmust be unmarried, however, and once ordained, a priest cannot marry.) The Vatican has repeatedly approved this tradition, while insistingonthe importance of priestly celibacy in the Latin rite.However, in the late 19th century, with the arrival of many Byzantine Catholic immigrants in Canada, Latin-rite prelates complained thatthe presence of married Catholic priests could create a “grave scandal.” The Vatican eventually ruled that the Eastern churches could not ordain married men in the countries where their communities forma minority of the Catholic population. The rule has historically applied primarily to Canada, the US, and Australia.With a decree approved by Pope Francis, and signed on June 14 by Cardinal Leonard Sandri, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has now rescinded that ban. Catholic bishops of the Eastern churches serving in eparchies (dioceses) in the West are explicitly authorized to ordain married men.
  • Catholic ‘cannibalism’ (cruxnow.com)
    One evening a couple of years ago, I saw a bloodstained Eucharistic host.It was displayed in a home in Worcester, Massachusetts, about a five-minute drive down the street from my house. The host was the sixth Eucharistic phenomena associated with the late Audrey Santo — a young woman who was left mute and motionless after an accident in 1987.Up until her death in 2007, “Little Audrey,” as she was called, became the focal point for intense devotion as a “victim soul” who offered up her own sufferings for the salvation of others. Her case also attracted intense criticism, particularly given the claims about supernatural happenings in her presence.
  • Priests as Husbands and Fathers? (nytimes.com)
    This week, Pope Francis announced plans to visit the United States in 2015. The trip will be watched for signs of how U.S. bishops are adapting to the shift in tone coming from the Vatican. Not only has Pope Francis called for an open discussion on the Catholic Church’s views on gays and divorce, he’s also talked about priestly celibacy — a policy that a growing number of Catholics are pushing to change. If clerical marriage became more common, how would the Catholic Church change?
  • Victims of historic child sex abuse speak out, after Catholic Church refuses to accept “liability” for the crimes of their priests (secularnewsdaily.com)
    The Catholic Church is refusing to accept “liability” for long-term sex abuse that went on at the Mirfield Junior Seminary, despite paying out £120,000 to eleven victims of child sex abuse.
  • Cleric urges girls, women to shun abortion (dailypost.ng)
    Olanrewaju, who is also a former Parish Priest of Saints Joachim and Anne Catholic Church,Ijegun, Lagos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).He spoke at the end of a rally on `’Walk for Life” organised by the churchtosensitise public on the dangers of abortion to human life.Olanrewaju said: “abortion, in any form, is an irreparable harm done to the innocent.“Any female, who procures a completed abortion, incurs excommunication by the commission of the offence as provided by Canon Law of the Catholic Church.

    “Human life must be respected and recognised by the civil society and the state from the moment of conception as an embryo until death, “ he told NAN.

    The cleric also urged relevant authorities to provide appropriate sanctions for “every deliberate termination of human life”.

  • Florida High School Implements ShoreTel Mobility on iPads (shoretel.com)
    Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High is a Roman Catholic college preparatory school of the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida. Located in nearby Southwest Ranches, with a student enrollment over 1,500, the high school is among the top private schools in the U.S. On the cutting edge of technology, McCarthy High School has a one-to-one iPad program to enhance the student learning environment.  Within the school’s progressive tech-savvy learning environment has been the ability to quickly reach teachers, anywhere anytime. Classrooms were not equipped with desk phones and the estimates to install them and wire the buildings were cost prohibitive. Also, the existing phone system and infrastructure were due for upgrades.
  • The Third Way ~ curated by Tom Cutts (UTS’83) (utsalumni.org)

    The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church. A 40-minute documentary film focusing on the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding Homosexuality.

    “Original Sin for all of us, for every human being on this planet, has disoriented our desires. We often find ourselves hungry for things that do not satisfy the ache.”

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