DISCLAIMER: Although we would disagree with author in other areas of Christian doctrine we believe this to be helpful in the study of the issue it addresses.—truthaccordingtoscripture.com
The first lie that the Bible records is found in the words of the devil in Gen. 3:4, "Ye shall not surely die," and this initial conceit, held up before the eyes of our first parents, permeates Philosophy, Paganism, Theosophy, Spiritism, Protestantism and Popery. We do not wish it to be understood that Gen. 3:4 really teaches anything specifically touching upon the question of the immortality of the soul; there it was a blasphemous contradiction of the words of God as uttered in Gen. 2:17, but so completely did its bait beguile, that the father of lies has ever since sought to confuse the tremendous issues of life and death, which the Bible brings forward on every page, by a conflicting jargon of Theology among believers, and a fruitful seed of error among the unsaved. We ask our readers, as Berean believers, to carefully consider the following extracts from spiritistic seances and mediums quoted from the writings of Mr. Miles Grant (The Bible Echo):–
"If a man would become satisfied of modern Spiritism, he must first be satisfied that he is an immortal being."
"The visitations and manifestations of the spirit world are to convince you of the immortality of the soul."
"The first, the greatest, and the grandest truth coming through modern Spiritism is the immortality of the soul."
Here it will be seen that Orthodoxy has nothing to say against these doctrines of demons, but rather, in Pulpit, Press, and Song, this great lie is echoed and enforced, colouring as it does the whole evangel. We give in our next quotation a Resolution passed at an important Spiritistic Convention, which shows how important a place this doctrine holds in their Creed:–
"RESOLVED–That Spiritism, according to the modern acceptation of the term, embraces all those who believe in the immortality of the soul. . . . Beyond this common faith, there is no doctrine or creed necessarily incident to modern Spiritism." It must come as a great shock to many godly Christians, who constantly pray for the "never dying souls" of men, to find themselves sharing a "common faith" with the enemy of truth! Yet so it is. A spirit says of this doctrine, "When once that is established, this one simple germ of knowledge will work out all the rest. The first lie of Satan was, "Ye shall not surely die." This was the "simple germ." It will culminate in the fruition of the second lie, "Ye shall be as God," for Spiritism and its doctrines are the precursors and forerunners of antichrist...
What saith the Scriptures concerning the Immortality of the Soul? (pp. 71-76)
...We would now turn from these "lying spirits" to the word of truth. So powerful is the hold of tradition upon us, that it seems hardly possible for anyone to approach the Scriptures in an unbiased manner; yet believing, as we do, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and that every word of God is pure, we may confidently turn to this book of books, feeling assured that all that is to be known of the soul will be found within its pages.
The word which the A.V. Old Testament has rendered "soul" is the Hebrew word nephesh. Nephesh occurs 754 times in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. In the A.V. and R.V., it is translated "soul" 472 times, whilst in the remaining 282 places it is represented by 44 different words and phrases. The English word "soul" is in every occurrence the rendering of the Hebrew nephesh, except in Job 30:15 and Isa. 57:16. Turning to the New Testament we find that the word rendered "soul" is the Greek word psuche. This word occurs in the A.V. 103 times; 58 times it is rendered "soul," 40 times "life," 3 times "mind," once "heart," and once "heartily." No other word but psuche is translated "soul" in the A.V. New Testament. The reader is now in possession of the simple facts of the case; we have a full, perfect, and authoritative statement by the creator and redeemer of the soul of man as to its nature.
We trust that our readers sufficiently revere the Scriptures as to be ready to submit to every statement, and so should it once be declared that the soul is immortal, we shall bow before the Word; and now, with the immortality of the soul before us, we commence our investigation of these 857 inspired references. We read many and varied statements as to the soul of man, our search carrying us through book after book of Law, Prophets, Psalms, Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and the Apocalypse, and when the last reference has been made we are confronted with the astounding fact that not once in all the 857 verses scattered throughout the whole Bible is there ever found a statement which would lend the remotest colouring to the oft-repeated statement, "the immortal soul," "the never dying soul."
Before prosecuting our studies further we might pause to ask, Is immortality predicated of any one in the Bible? To this we may soon give an answer, as the words do not occur many times in the Scriptures. Aphthartos occurs 7 times, rendered "immortal" and "incorruptible"; aphtharsia occurs 7 times, rendered "immortality," "incorruption," "sincerity"; athanasia occurs 3 times, rendered "immortality." The word is used of God. "The King, eternal, immortal, invisible" (1 Tim. 1:17), and it is emphatically declared to be His exclusive possession, "Who only hath immortality" (1 Tim. 6:16). Let us remember once again the words of satan, "Ye shall not surely die. . . .ye shall be as God," and let us take our place with the Word of truth and brand the devil's words as a lie. Immortality can only be possessed by man as a gift from God. Rom. 2:7 shows us the manner of seeking it under law, "To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for honour, and glory, and immortality (God will render) eternal life."
When we turn to the opening chapters of the Bible we cannot fail to see that a difference is pointedly made between man and the rest of created beings. Gen. 1:24 reads, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth." How different when we come to the creation of man in 1:26, "And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have dominion." The deliberate statement of 1:26 shows the superiority of man over all else of the six days' creation. Those who would prove immortality from the expression "in Our image, after Our likeness" prove too much. Why stop at immortality? Why not omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, why not go to the whole length of man-elevating and God-dishonouring anti-christianity? Gen. 2:7 gives us the detailed account of the creation of man. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Let us examine this verse carefully. There is nothing very likely to minister to our pride in the first sentence, "the dust of the ground," but many have seen a warrant for immortality in the second. Apart from the fact to be stated presently, one would have thought that the "nostrils were a most unlikely vehicle for immortality, and would be more likely to have reference to the vivification of the lifeless Adam, who thereby became "a living soul." The English Bible gives a false argument in this record of man's creation, for those able translators, yielding to the traditional teaching which they had imbibed maybe from infancy, veiled the inspired connection between man and beast which the Holy Spirit had purposely made. We give therefore every passage occurring in the first nine chapters of Genesis:–
"The moving creature that hath a living soul" (Gen. 1:20).
"Every living soul which the waters brought forth" (Gen. 1:21).
"Let the earth bring forth the living soul" (Gen. 1:24).
"That creepeth. . . . wherein there is a living soul" (Gen. 1:30).
"Man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7).
"Adam called every living soul" (Gen. 2:19).
"Every living soul that is with you" (Gen. 9:10).
"Between Me and you and every living soul" (Gen. 9:12).
"Every living soul of all flesh" (Gen.9:15).
"Every living soul" (Gen. 9:16).
These passages are in sharp conflict with Theology, for the word "soul" is used of animals as well as man. Moreover, the very expression "breath of life" is also similarly used and explained in Gen. 7:21, 22:–
"All flesh died that move upon the earth, both of:–
(a) Fowl, (b) Cattle, (100) Beast, (d) Creeping thing, (e) Man.
All in whose nostrils was the breath of life."
This breath of life, which, entering the man at his creation, made him become a living soul, is precisely the same breath of life which made the beast of the field and fish of the sea become living souls. Solomon, who wrote with inspiration equal to that of Moses or Paul, and who had given him from God a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like him before or since (1 Kings 3:12), and who, moreover, tells us that "That which was written was upright, even words of truth" (Eccles. 12:10), declared, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, as one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath (or spirit, Heb. ruach)" (Eccles. 3:19). Cf. Gen. 2:17; 3:19, and Psa. 146:4.
Death comes alike to each. So far as this world is concerned all stand upon a level. "A man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, as one dieth, so dieth the other" (Eccles. 3:19, 20). Yet a striking difference is indicated between the life of man and beast–we are to live again, they are not. "The spirit (translated `breath,' verse19) of man goeth upward; the spirit of the beast goeth downward" (Eccles. 3:21). Different in destiny but not in nature, for "all have one spirit" (Eccles. 3:19). "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccles. 12:7).
There are not a few who profess a belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures who, finding their traditions upset by the book of Ecclesiastes, loftily exclaim, Oh! That is "under the sun," we know better than Solomon! This book specializes, shall we say, on the frailty and vanity of man by nature, and for that reason we should pay heed to its teaching. We might as well refuse to believe what Paul wrote concerning the mystery for fear he was prejudiced, or Moses concerning the law. Away with such pretences. Those who must have the immortality of the soul as part of their creed, let them call God's truth a lie if they dare, and we will, at least, credit them with inconsistency, but let them not prate about belief in inspiration while they perpetuate the teaching of the arch-enemy of truth, who ever seeks to minister to the pride of man whose breath is in his nostrils, and to dishonour God "Who alone hath immortality."
The New Testament is entirely in agreement with the Old Testament, e.g., read Acts 7:59. Stephen when dying prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (not `soul' as tradition demands, but `spirit,' as Eccles. 12:7 teaches), that He might keep for him that life till resurrection, "and when he had said this he fell asleep." How refreshing it is to turn from the assumption of the so-called orthodox teachers to the clear commentary of the apostle Paul on Gen. 2:7. Man sees in the term, "a living soul," a synonym for immortality; not so the inspired apostle:–
"There is a natural (psuchikon, soul-lical) body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural (soul-lical), and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second is the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:44-47).
Note the parallel:–
"The first man Adam was made a living soul." "The first man is of the earth, earthy."
Immortality is not received through the first Adam: his descendants by nature are all mortals.
Some have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and these are awaiting resurrection, when this corruptible and this mortal shall put on immortality. How like the gospel to shut us up to Christ and resurrection for this coveted gift. How like satan and his ministers to preach the natural immortality of man and his independence of God. Death is said to be but the portal into fuller life, and the whole testimony of the Word is thereby set at naught. This doctrine of the immortality of the soul of man is far reaching. It permeates all Theology. It trammels our views of the atonement; it blights our prospects of the future; it is the fruitful source of the Popish purgatory, and the Protestant nightmare of never-ending torment. Manifestly, if one will teach that all souls are immortal, something must be done with them. Consequently, the scriptures which speak of death, destruction, burning like chaff, &100:, are tortured and twisted to mean their very opposites, and the passages which refer exclusively to the devil and those who side with antichrist are not only misinterpreted, but mercilessly and indiscriminately applied to all of every age and clime who are without Christ.
Let us not fear what man may say or think, let us hold fast the faithful Word, let us glory in the blessed fact that we who were once dead can now look away to the right hand of God, and realize that "our life is hid with Christ in God," going forth with the glad message of the gospel of life for the dead to proclaim Him who is the resurrection and the life, who "shed light on life and immortality through the gospel."