The article below is a response by me, Rick Longva, to a discussion I had with people I have known for a long time.
Once again I open myself up to attack from others who have a different perspective on the cessation of life.
Some (like Mike) say who knows!
Others say (you) "HOW DO YOU KNOW?" (booming voice, red neck, and ears)
And still others say; "no one knows."
As I said before, I am a believer in the scriptures as God's word to us. I know there are other writings out there that claim the same, but actually none do claim to be the words of God to humans, except the Bible. The Quran claims that Mohammad got his inspiration directly from Gabriel who heard it from God. Other writings claim they are from humans such as Buddha, Confucius etc. at least that is what I have read from some of their sites.
The bible claims that they are inspired by holy spirit (God's spirit):
"And we are having the prophetic word more confirmed, which you, doing ideally, are heeding (as to a lamp appearing in a dingy place, till the day should be breaking and the morning star should be rising) in your hearts, knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture at all is becoming its own explanation. For not by the will of man was prophecy carried on at any time, but, being carried on by holy spirit, holy men of God speak." (1 Peter 1:19-21)
"All scripture is inspired by God, and is beneficial for teaching, for exposure, for correction, for discipline in righteousness, that the human of God may be equipped, fitted out for every good act" ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We do not have the originals but we do have copies and fragments that have been preserved from as early as the 3rd century. The Bible (New Testament) I use has been transliterated from the three oldest copies; the Codex Alexandrianus (400-440 A.D), Codex Vaticanus (300-325 A.D), and Codex Sinaitacus (330-360 A.D). The complier A.E Knoch, when transliterating; gave every Greek word an English equivalent word, and that word was not used for any other word, except when an English word could not be found for a certain Greek word, so he used one that came closest to the Greek meaning, or to convey the thought. He also used light type face for words that are not in the originals to make it readable, or a verse would read something like: "For at present we are observing by mirror, in enigma, yet then face to face." With the light type face words added it reads: "For at present we are observing by means of a mirror, in an enigma, yet then face to face." Makes it a little easier to read, and understand.
What does that have to do with the soul?
It (the Bible), for me, is the authority from where I get my understanding of the state of the dead (as well as the living). Most people who use the bible, or some of its teachings, in their religion, such as Christians, Bahia, Scientology, Islam, Gnostics ect. believe in the immortality of the soul, or better, they believe in an eternal life in some form, and the soul is the form that lives on.
The idea of an eternal life can easily be debunked, as eternal means having no beginning and no end, and no one, except God, has eternal life. This does not mean that we will not live on into eternity, but we do not have "eternal" life.
As far as the soul being immortal many who use the bible as their source for truth have come to the conclusion that the soul is immortal. That upon birth the soul of that newborn remains forever. It (the soul) is a part of the universe, and in the Christian religion as well as others it has a destiny where it will spend its life after the body dies, either in heaven or in hell. There are also those religions that believe the soul will wander around after the body dies, disembodied, waiting, and searching for the right candidate (new born, or fetus, or sperm), to penetrate and begin its life all over again, bringing all the wisdom and knowledge it learned in its previous life and infuse it with the life body it claims as its new host.
The Bible gives us an account of the "birth" of the soul in Genesis 2:7:
"Yahweh Elohim formed the human out of soil from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living soul."
Humans are made of two components - body and spirit. God never put a soul into Adam, or any creature. The soul of a human is not a component, but rather the product of two combined components, namely: body and spirit. God formed man's body out of the ground. He then breathed into this body the breath of life (spirit), and the man, not some separate component, but the man became a "Living Soul." The soul is not the living soul, but rather the man is the living soul. There is no soul without the body of man, and the breath of life (spirit).
This is also true for all living creatures, as soon as the breath of life was breathed into them they all become living souls, same as humans.
"And Elohim said: Let the earth bring forth the living soul, each according to its kind: domestic beast, creeper and land animal, each according to its kind... Let the waters swarm with the swarming thing, the living soul, and let the flyers fly above the earth on the face of the atmosphere of the heavens."
Now the soul begins at conception. I believe that is when the soul of life begins, but in the beginning of creation all was formed and life was breathed into them and they became living souls.
The Psalmist says concerning his life beginning, which could be said of all of us:
"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (Psalm 139:13-17).
The soul is our conscious personality, or as the Greek English Keyword Concordance says: "The sensation resulting for the combination of an organic body with the breath or spirit, connected with the blood (For the soul of all flesh is its blood: Leviticus 17:14). Here are some of what the soul feels and experiences;
"For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul" Proverbs 2:10). Knowledge is pleasant to our soul.
"How long shall I set grief in my soul, with affliction in my heart by day and night?" (Psalm 13:2). We experience grief in our soul.
"Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me" (Lamentations 3:20). Our soul contains our memories.
"And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall exult in His salvation" (Psalm 35:9). We experience our joy in our soul.
"You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your intensity" (Deuteronomy 6:5). Our love is experienced in our soul.
"The soul of the people was impatient on the way" (Numbers 21:4). Our souls can be impatient.
"She was in bitterness of soul when she prayed to Yahweh" (2 Samuel 1:10). Our souls can be bitter.
So we see that the soul is the seat of our emotions, our personalities, our experiences. Who "we" are, as we "live" in "our" bodies, with the breath of life in us.
But what happens to us when the breath of life leaves our bodies? Again, many believe we just go on living, or at least our personalities do. They believe we are still conscious and aware of all around us as we invisibly move around the universe. Some believe that we can see other souls moving around as well. Many claim that when they die and their soul goes to heaven they will see their friends and loved ones who too have died and their souls have also departed to another location.
How the invisible can see the invisible is uncertain, yet this is what is believed by millions if not billions of humans.
In Ezekiel we read: "The soul that sins, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20).
We read here that the soul can indeed die, and we have seen from the verses above that the soul is where all our emotions, thoughts, memories, and knowledge are stored, and that our souls are our personalities, our soul reveals who we are.
In Psalms 146:4 we read:
"His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."
In Psalm 115:17 we read:
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence."
In Ecclesiastes 9:5 it says:
"For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything."
In Ecclesiastes 9:10 we read:
"All that your hand finds to do, do with your vigor; for there is no doing or devising or knowledge or wisdom in the unseen where you are going."
There are many more verses that tell of the state of the dead, but I think the point has been made, the dead are dead, no more feelings, thoughts, memories.
So what is being dead like?
The Bible likens it to sleep.
All through the scriptures we read of those who have died that they now sleep:
"For David, indeed, subserving his own generation by God's counsel, was put to repose (sleep), and was added to his fathers, and was acquainted with decay" (Acts 13:36).
Concerning Lazarus' death Jesus says:
"He said these things, and after this He is saying to them, "Lazarus, our friend, has found repose (rest in sleep), but I am going that I should be awakening him out of sleep." The disciples, then, said to Him, "Lord, if he has repose, he shall be saved." Now Jesus had made a declaration concerning his death, yet they suppose that He is saying it concerning the repose of sleep. Jesus, then, said to them with boldness then, Lazarus died" (John 11:11-14).
"And Solomon slept with his father's and was buried in the city of David" (1 Kings 11:43).
So far we see from the scriptures that the dead know nothing, they can't work, or think or move, they are as if in unconscious sleep. But the living know all these and experience all of these; they think, they work, they love, they hate, they experience all the joys and heartaches that can be experienced with the faculties they have while alive.
I asked Mike, if we live on in another form (a "soul form" I guess it is called), why does no one want to die. He answered, "They are uncertain of the unknown."
That is the usual answer I get from everyone who believes in the intermediate state (the soul lives on) of the dead, uncertainty.
I enjoy life, as much as I can, because I know that this is it until I die, that is until the resurrection from the dead. Jesus said:
"I am the Door. Through Me if anyone should be entering, he shall be saved, and shall be entering and coming out and will be finding pasture. The thief is not coming except that he should be stealing and sacrificing and destroying. I came that they may have life eonian, and have it superabundantly" (John 10:9-10).
Eonian life is the life we have now, it is the adjective to eon. So it means life pertaining to the eon. I find that most people seem to be waiting for their lives to begin, not here and now, but in the next life, all the while missing out of much of the life they have now before them. They continue to search for past life experiences, as well as the next life's wonders.
I listened to a man tell a woman that she had lived many lives before this life, and he gave her a list of all the different bodies her soul possessed over the centuries (I think it was twelve or thirteen lives). A servant, a princes, a warrior, a pioneer, an Egyptian slave. She couldn't remember any of the "lives" she lived in the past, but he did a pretty good job convincing her she had, and once she tapped into her "soul past lives" she would soon remember the experiences she had in the distant past, and those past experiences would be of great assistance to her in the life she now has, and in future lives she would live.
I prefer to believe this is where I was meant to be, and this is where I will live in this body, and this is where all my life experiences will fill up my soul, and when I die I will sleep until I am awakened and receive a vivified body. Vivified means a return of the spirit and given life beyond the reach of death, immortality.
We are told in the scriptures at present only Christ has immortality:
"He is King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, making His home in light inaccessible, Whom not one of mankind perceived nor can be perceiving, to Whom be honor and might eonian! Amen!" (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
And we are told that because of what He has accomplished:
"And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself."
This is speaking of His death and resurrection from death, we all will be drawn to Him, some in this life, others after their resurrection, but all will be drawn to Him. (I won't go into the how, if you want to know what I believe I will do another article for you).
As I said to Mike, I have no fear of the unknown, because there is nothing to fear. I do not look forward to death (death is called an enemy; 1 Corinthians 15:26,it robs us of life), because I like living, but when it is my time I know that this body will decay :
"All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20).
The spirit (life force) will return to God:
"The spirit returns to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
And my soul will go into the unseen:
"For Thou wilt not be forsaking my soul in the unseen" (Acts 2:27).
Unseen = not perceivable by any of the senses; imperceptible.
But as it says, my soul (all souls) will not be forsaken in the unseen. "Thus also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is roused in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is roused in glory. It is sown in infirmity; it is roused in power. It is sown a soulish body; it is roused a spiritual body. If there is a soulish body, there is a spiritual also. Thus it is written also, The first man, Adam, "became a living soul:" the last Adam (Christ) a vivifying Spirit. But not first the spiritual, but the soulish, thereupon the spiritual. The first man was out of the earth, soilish; the second Man is the Lord out of heaven. Such as the soilish one is, such are those also who are soilish, and such as the Celestial One, such are those also who are celestials. And according as we wear the image of the soilish, we should be wearing the image also of the Celestial." (1 Corinthians 15:42-49)
We will all be given an image, and that image is the Image that we are created in. At present we are only an image of the Image we are to be, but:
"Beloved, now are we children of God, and it was not as yet manifested what we shall be. We are aware that, if He should be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him according as He is" (1 John 3:2).
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53).
We are not wandering souls, destined to work our way through many lives in the hope of one day reaching spiritual perfection. In this life we have a destiny, and that is to put on incorruption, immortality, the image of the One Whose Image we are all created in, as John writes: "we shall be like Him."
I hope that helps explain some of what I believe the soul is and what happens at death, and what happens at our resurrection from the dead. I know this is brief, but brief is sometimes the clearest.
Again, Your Buddy,